Endovascular Thrombectomy versus Endovascular Thrombectomy Preceded by Intravenous Thrombolysis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

World Neurosurg. 2023 May 16:177:39-58. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2023.05.033. Online ahead of print.


Background: Randomized controlled trials comparing endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) versus EVT preceded by intravenous thrombolysis (EVT + IVT) for acute ischemic stroke due to large artery occlusion remain controversial. This systematic review and meta-analysis seek to compare these 2 modalities.

Methods: Online Protocol is available at PROSPERO (york.ac.uk) (registration# CRD42022357506). MEDLINE, PubMed, and Embase were searched. The primary outcome was 90-day modified Rankin scale (mRS) ≤2. Secondary outcomes were 90-day mRS ≤1, 90-day mean mRS, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) at 1-3 and 3-7 days, 90-day Barthel Index, 90-day EQ-5D-5L (EuroQoL Group 5-Dimension 5-Level), the volume of infarction (mL), successful reperfusion, complete reperfusion, recanalization, 90-day mortality, any intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), symptomatic ICH, embolization in new territory, new infarction, puncture site complications, vessel dissection, and contrast extravasation. The certainty in the evidence was determined by the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) approach.

Results: Six randomized controlled trials yielding 2332 patients were included, of which 1163 and 1169 underwent EVT and EVT + IVT, respectively. The relative risk (RR) of 90-day mRS ≤2 was similar between the groups (RR = 0.96[0.88, 1.04]; P = 0.28). EVT was non-inferior to EVT + IVT because the lower bond of 95% confidence interval of the risk difference (RD = -0.02 [-0.06, 0.02]; P = 0.36) exceeded the -0.1 non-inferiority margin. The certainty in the evidence was high. The RR of successful reperfusion (RR = 0.96 [0.93, 0.99]; P = 0.006), any ICH (RR = 0.87 [0.77, 0.98]; P = 0.02), and puncture site complications (RR = 0.47 [0.25, 0.88]; P = 0.02) were lower with EVT. For EVT + IVT, the number needed to treat for successful reperfusion was 25, and the number needed to harm for any ICH was 20. The 2 groups were similar in other outcomes.

Conclusion: EVT is non-inferior to EVT + IVT. In centers capable of both EVT and IVT, if timely EVT is feasible, it is reasonable to skip bridging IVT and keep rescue thrombolysis at the discretion of the interventionist for patients presenting within 4.5 hours of anterior ischemic stroke.

Keywords: Cerebrovascular accident; Endovascular procedure; Meta-analysis; Stroke; Thrombectomy; Thrombolysis; Tissue plasminogen activator.

Publication types

  • Review