Direct carotid puncture for mechanical thrombectomy in acute ischemic stroke patients with prohibitive vascular access

J Neurosurg. 2020 Aug 14;135(1):53-63. doi: 10.3171/2020.5.JNS192737.


Objective: While the benefit of mechanical thrombectomy (MT) for patients with anterior circulation acute ischemic stroke with large-vessel occlusion (AIS-LVO) has been clearly established, difficult vascular access may make the intervention impossible or unduly prolonged. In this study, the authors evaluated safety as well as radiographic and functional outcomes in stroke patients treated with MT via direct carotid puncture (DCP) for prohibitive vascular access.

Methods: The authors retrospectively studied patients from their prospective AIS-LVO database who underwent attempted MT between 2015 and 2018. Patients with prohibitive vascular access were divided into two groups: 1) aborted MT (abMT) after failed transfemoral access and 2) attempted MT via DCP. Functional outcome was assessed using the modified Rankin Scale at 3 months. Associations with outcome were analyzed using ordinal logistic regression.

Results: Of 352 consecutive patients with anterior circulation AIS-LVO who underwent attempted MT, 37 patients (10.5%) were deemed to have prohibitive vascular access (mean age [± SD] 82 ± 11 years, mean National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] score 17 ± 5, with females accounting for 75% of the patients). There were 20 patients in the DCP group and 17 in the abMT group. The two groups were well matched for the known predictors of clinical outcome: age, sex, and admission NIHSS score. Direct carotid access was successfully obtained in 19 of 20 patients. Successful reperfusion (thrombolysis in cerebral infarction score 2b or 3) was achieved in 16 (84%) of 19 patients in the DCP group. Carotid access complications included an inability to catheterize the carotid artery in 1 patient, neck hematomas in 4 patients, non-flow-limiting common carotid artery (CCA) dissections in 2 patients, and a delayed, fatal carotid blowout in 1 patient. The neck hematomas and non-flow-limiting CCA dissections did not require any subsequent interventions and remained clinically silent. Compared with the abMT group, patients in the DCP group had smaller infarct volumes (11 vs 48 ml, p = 0.04), a greater reduction in NIHSS score (-4 vs +2.9, p = 0.03), and better functional outcome (shift analysis for 3-month modified Rankin Scale score: adjusted OR 5.2, 95% CI 1.02-24.5; p = 0.048).

Conclusions: DCP for emergency MT in patients with anterior circulation AIS-LVO and prohibitive vascular access is safe and effective and is associated with higher recanalization rates, smaller infarct volumes, and improved functional outcome compared with patients with abMT after failed transfemoral access. DCP should be considered in this patient population.

Keywords: acute ischemic stroke; difficult vascular access; direct carotid puncture; large-vessel occlusion; mechanical thrombectomy; vascular disorders.