Endovascular Thrombectomy for Mild Strokes: How Low Should We Go?

Stroke. 2018 Oct;49(10):2398-2405. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.118.022114.


Background and Purpose- Endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) is effective for acute ischemic stroke with large vessel occlusion and National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) ≥6. However, EVT benefit for mild deficits large vessel occlusions (NIHSS, <6) is uncertain. We evaluated EVT efficacy and safety in mild strokes with large vessel occlusion. Methods- A retrospective cohort of patients with anterior circulation large vessel occlusion and NIHSS <6 presenting within 24 hours from last seen normal were pooled. Patients were divided into 2 groups: EVT or medical management. Ninety-day mRS of 0 to 1 was the primary outcome, mRS of 0 to 2 was the secondary. Symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage was the safety outcome. Clinical outcomes were compared through a multivariable logistic regression after adjusting for age, presentation NIHSS, time last seen normal to presentation, center, IV alteplase, Alberta Stroke Program early computed tomographic score, and thrombus location. We then performed propensity score matching as a sensitivity analysis. Results were also stratified by thrombus location. Results- Two hundred fourteen patients (EVT, 124; medical management, 90) were included from 8 US and Spain centers between January 2012 and March 2017. The groups were similar in age, Alberta Stroke Program early computed tomographic score, IV alteplase rate and time last seen normal to presentation. There was no difference in mRS of 0 to 1 between EVT and medical management (55.7% versus 54.4%, respectively; adjusted odds ratio, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.64-2.64; P=0.47). Similar results were seen for mRS of 0 to 2 (63.3% EVT versus 67.8% medical management; adjusted odds ratio, 0.9; 95% CI, 0.43-1.88; P=0.77). In a propensity matching analysis, there was no treatment effect in 62 matched pairs (53.5% EVT, 48.4% medical management; odds ratio, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.54-2.52; P=0.69). There was no statistically significant difference when stratified by any thrombus location; M1 approached significance ( P=0.07). Symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage rates were higher with thrombectomy (5.8% EVT versus 0% medical management; P=0.02). Conclusions- Our retrospective multicenter cohort study showed no improvement in excellent and independent functional outcomes in mild strokes (NIHSS, <6) receiving thrombectomy irrespective of thrombus location, with increased symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage rates, consistent with the guidelines recommending the treatment for NIHSS ≥6. There was a signal toward benefit with EVT only in M1 occlusions; however, this needs to be further evaluated in future randomized control trials.

Keywords: Spain; brain ischemia; humans; odds ratio; thrombectomy; thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Brain Ischemia / surgery
  • Brain Ischemia / therapy*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Endovascular Procedures / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Thrombectomy* / methods
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / methods
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator