Vascular tortuosity in endovascular mechanical thrombectomy

Brain Circ. 2021 Mar 30;7(1):3-7. doi: 10.4103/bc.bc_5_21. eCollection 2021 Jan-Mar.


Endovascular mechanical thrombectomy effectively removes occlusive thrombi from the arterial lumen; however, there is little literature supporting the relevance of vascular geometry on surgical outcomes. Critical vessel characteristics including the degree of angulation and tortuosity influence the ability to advance stent retriever devices toward the site of occlusion. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the impact of carotid artery catheter pathway accessibility on the thrombectomy outcomes in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients. Traditional imaging modalities generate incomplete pictures of the vascular tortuosity and are prone to clinical judgment errors. Recent three-dimensional computed tomography angiography image analysis techniques circumvent these limitations to calculate accurate tortuosity and angulation measurements. These novel images facilitate classifying common anatomical variant patients into groups that may be treated with specially designed catheter devices. Importantly, this image analysis method reveals significant angulation in the common carotid artery and extracranial internal carotid artery that correlates with delays in reaching the occlusion site. Increased age, which is associated with increased risk of stroke, also increases the incidence of severe tortuosity. The semi-automated measurements technique also demonstrate that full 360° arterial loops are present in nearly 3% of catheter pathways and that the overall degree of angulation differs bilaterally. In this review, we examine the utility of this novel image analysis procedure and evaluate the recent literature relevant to neuroendovascular thrombectomy in AIS patients. Three literature databases - PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science were queried for original articles investigating both preclinical and clinical thrombectomy applications.

Keywords: Carotid artery; computed tomography; reperfusion; stent; stroke; thrombolytic; thrombus.

Publication types

  • Review