PREMISE: Posterior Circulation Results Comparing Embolectomy to Medical Intervention in Stroke Emergencies

Cureus. 2019 Oct 25;11(10):e6000. doi: 10.7759/cureus.6000.


Background Intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) is a proven therapy for stroke in the acute treatment window. Recent published data has shown efficacy for embolectomy for acute ischemic strokes within up to six, 16 and 24 hours in the anterior circulation but there is no guideline for optimal therapy for patients with posterior circulation stroke, specifically basilar artery occlusion (BAO) outside the standard IV rt-PA treatment window. Aim To evaluate differences in outcomes between maximal medical treatment versus thrombectomy in BAO. Method We retrospectively evaluated prospectively collected acute stroke code patients from our stroke registry from 7/2004 to 7/2016. Patients who received IV rt-PA were excluded. Patients with evidence of posterior circulation ischemia and a hyper dense artery sign on initial non-contrast CT were included as a surrogate for direct vessel data before 2014. Patients after 9/2014 were selected by evidence of BAO on vessel imaging. All patients were categorized either as endovascular therapy or standard medical treatment alone. Demographics, hospital discharge location and Modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 90 days were compared. Two-sample t-test and Fisher's exact test compared continuous and categorical variables across groups respectively. Results A total of 18 patients were included (three embolectomy and 15 medical therapy only). There were no significant differences in demographic data (age, gender, race, ethnicity, blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, tobacco use, alcohol use and initial NIHSS). Results for outcome and efficacies showed no statistical difference between medical management and endovascular intervention for functional outcome mRS (0-3) at 90 days (p = 0.2) and discharge location of home/inpatient rehabilitation vs other locations (p = 0.52). Conclusions Our single-center review showed the expected transition from predominantly medically treated posterior circulation BAOs, to a mixed pattern including embolectomy. Although the sample size was small, this study also illustrates the lack of clear efficacy data for optimal treatment strategies, and the ongoing treatment challenges in posterior circulation stroke population in a population of patients outside the rt-PA window.

Keywords: acute ischemic stroke; acute treatment; basilar artery occlusion; neurointerventional; thrombectomy.