Bridging Thrombolysis Achieved Better Outcomes Than Direct Thrombectomy After Large Vessel Occlusion: An Updated Meta-Analysis

Stroke. 2021 Jan;52(1):356-365. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.031477. Epub 2020 Dec 11.


The utility and necessity of pretreatment with intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) before mechanical thrombectomy (MT) remains an issue of strong debate. This study aims to compare the outcomes of bridging thrombolysis (BT, IVT+MT) with direct MT (d-MT) after large vessel ischemic stroke based on the most up-to-date evidence. MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library from January 2017 to June 2020 were searched for studies that directly compared the outcomes of the 2 strategies. Methodological quality was assessed using the Quality in Prognostic Studies tool. Combined estimates of odds ratios (ORs) of BT versus d-MT were derived. Multiple subgroup analyses were performed, especially for IVT-eligible patients. Thirty studies involving 7191 patients in the BT group and 4891 patients in the d-MT group were included. Methodological quality was generally high. Compared with patients in the d-MT group, patients in the BT group showed significantly better functional independence (modified Rankin Scale score 0-2) at 90 days (OR=1.43 [95% CI, 1.28-1.61]), had lower mortality at 90 days (OR=0.67 [95% CI, 0.60-0.75]), and achieved higher successful recanalization (modified Thrombolysis in Cerebral Ischemia score 2b-3) rate (OR=1.23 [95% CI, 1.07-1.42]). No significant difference was detected in the occurrence of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage between 2 groups (OR=1.01 [95% CI, 0.86-1.19]). Subgroup analysis showed that functional independence frequency remained significantly higher in BT group regardless of IVT eligibility or study design. Compared with d-MT, bridging with IVT led to better clinical outcomes, lower mortality at 90 days, and higher successful recanalization rates, without increasing the risk of near-term hemorrhagic complications. The benefits of BT based on this most recent literature evidence support the current guidelines of using BT.

Keywords: guideline; ischemia; mortality; outcome; stroke; thrombectomy; thrombolysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Thrombectomy / methods*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome