Endovascular thrombectomy with versus without intravenous thrombolysis in patients with acute basilar artery occlusion: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurol. 2024 Jun;271(6):3039-3049. doi: 10.1007/s00415-024-12353-w. Epub 2024 Apr 10.


Background and purpose: The benefit and safety of intravenous thrombolysis before endovascular thrombectomy in patients with acute ischemic stroke caused by basilar artery occlusion (BAO) remains unclear. This article aims to investigate the clinical outcomes and safety of endovascular thrombectomy with versus without intravenous thrombolysis in acute BAO stroke patients.

Methods: We conducted a comprehensive search of PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, and Web of Science databases to identify relevant literature pertaining to patients with acute BAO who underwent endovascular thrombectomy alone or intravenous thrombolysis bridging with endovascular thrombectomy (bridging therapy), until January 10, 2024. The primary outcome was functional independence, defined as a score of 0-2 on the modified Rankin Scale at 90 days. The safety outcome was mortality at 90 days and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage within 48 h. Effect sizes were computed as risk ratio (RR) with random-effect models. This study was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42023462293).

Results: A total of 528 articles were obtained through the search and articles that did not meet the inclusion criteria were excluded. Finally, 2 RCTs and 10 cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. The findings revealed that the endovascular thrombectomy alone group had a lower rate of functional independence compared to the bridging therapy group (29% vs 38%; RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.68-0.88, p < 0.001), lower independent ambulation (39% vs 45%; RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.82-0.98, p = 0.01), and higher mortality (36% vs 28%, RR 1.22, 95% CI 1.08-1.37, p = 0.001). However, no differences were detected in symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage between the two groups (6% vs 4%; RR 1.12, 95% CI 0.74-1.71, p = 0.58).

Conclusion: Intravenous thrombolysis plus endovascular thrombectomy seemed to led to better functional independence, independent ambulation, and lower risk of mortality without increasing the incidence of intracranial hemorrhage compared to endovascular thrombectomy alone. However, given the non-randomized nature of this study, further studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Acute ischemic stroke; Basilar artery occlusion; Endovascular thrombectomy; Intravenous thrombolysis; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Endovascular Procedures* / methods
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke / drug therapy
  • Ischemic Stroke / surgery
  • Ischemic Stroke / therapy
  • Thrombectomy* / methods
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / methods
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency* / surgery
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency* / therapy


  • Fibrinolytic Agents