Thrombus Composition and Efficacy of Thrombolysis and Thrombectomy in Acute Ischemic Stroke

Stroke. 2021 Mar;52(3):1131-1142. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.032810. Epub 2021 Feb 10.


Thrombi retrieved from patients with acute ischemic stroke are highly heterogeneous. Recent data suggest that thrombus composition may impact on mechanical thrombectomy, the number of recanalization manoeuvres, resistance to retrieval, and on thrombolytic potential. Our aim was to summarize evidence describing the impact of thrombus composition on efficacy of mechanical thrombectomy and thrombolysis in patients with acute ischemic stroke. The scoping review methodology guided by the Joanna Briggs Institute, an adaption of the Arksey and O'Malley, was followed. Comprehensive searches were conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, SCOPUS, and Web of Science. Articles were classified into 4 key themes: (1) composition of stroke thrombi, (2) thrombus composition and mechanical thrombectomy, (3) thrombus composition and thrombolytic therapy, and (4) novel imaging and endovascular approaches. Our search identified 698 articles published from 1987 to June 2020. Additional articles were extracted from reference lists of the selected articles. Overall, 95 topic-specific articles identified for inclusion published in 40 different journals were included. Reports showed that thrombus composition in stroke was highly heterogeneous, containing fibrin, platelets, red blood cells, VWF (von Willebrand Factor), and neutrophil extracellular traps. Thrombi could roughly be divided into fibrin- and red blood cell-rich clots. Fibrin-rich clots were associated with increased recanalization manoeuvres, longer procedure time, and less favorable clinical outcomes compared with red blood cell-rich clots. Advances in detection or treatment of thrombi that take into account clot heterogeneity may be able to improve future endovascular and thrombolytic treatment of stroke.

Keywords: blood platelets; extracellular traps; fibrin; ischemic stroke; thrombectomy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets
  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke / blood
  • Ischemic Stroke / metabolism*
  • Ischemic Stroke / therapy*
  • Thrombectomy / methods*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Thrombosis / blood
  • Thrombosis / metabolism*
  • Thrombosis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents