Endovascular Treatment of Acute Ischemic Stroke

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2020 Apr;26(2):310-331. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000852.


Purpose of review: This article reviews the actual indications for mechanical thrombectomy in patients with acute ischemic stroke and how the opportunities for endovascular therapy can be expanded by using the concept of clinical-imaging or perfusion-imaging mismatch (as a surrogate for salvageable tissue) rather than time of ischemia.

Recent findings: Six randomized controlled trials undoubtedly confirmed the benefits of using endovascular thrombectomy on the clinical outcome of patients with stroke with large vessel occlusion within 6 hours from symptom onset compared with those receiving only standard medical care. In a meta-analysis of individual patient data, the number needed to treat with endovascular thrombectomy to reduce disability by at least one level on the modified Rankin Scale for one patient was 2.6. Recently, the concept of "tissue window" versus time window has proved useful for selecting patients for mechanical thrombectomy up to 24 hours from symptom onset. The DAWN (DWI or CTP Assessment With Clinical Mismatch in the Triage of Wake-Up and Late Presenting Strokes Undergoing Neurointervention) trial included patients at a median of 12.5 hours from onset and showed the largest effect in functional outcome ever described in any acute stroke treatment trial (35.5% increase in functional independence). In DEFUSE 3 (Diffusion and Perfusion Imaging Evaluation for Understanding Stroke Evolution 3), patients treated with mechanical thrombectomy at a median of 11 hours after onset had a 28% increase in functional independence and an additional 20% absolute reduction in death or severe disability.

Summary: For patients with acute ischemic stroke and a large vessel occlusion in the proximal anterior circulation who can be treated within 6 hours of stroke symptom onset, mechanical thrombectomy with a second-generation stent retriever or a catheter aspiration device should be indicated regardless of whether the patient received treatment with intravenous (IV) recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) in patients with limited signs of early ischemic changes on neuroimaging. Two clinical trials completely disrupted the time window concept in acute ischemic stroke, showing excellent clinical outcomes in patients treated up to 24 hours from symptom onset. Time of ischemia is, on average, a good biomarker for tissue viability; however, the window of opportunity for treatment varies across different individuals because of a range of compensatory mechanisms. Adjusting time to the adequacy of collateral flow leads to the concept of tissue window, a paradigm shift in stroke reperfusion therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endovascular Procedures / standards*
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ischemic Stroke / therapy*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Thrombectomy / standards*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents