Purpose: To report the safety and efficacy of local, direct, intra-arterial and intravenous fibrinolysis treatment in selected cases of clinically symptomatic patients with acute occlusion of the intracranial cerebral arteries and dural sinuses.
Methods: Patients with acute progressive neurological deterioration, in spite of systemic anticoagulation and/or antiplatelet medications, presenting with occlusion of a major intracranial cerebral artery or dural sinus were tested. From a transfemoral approach through a guiding catheter, a 2.5F microcatheter was guided directly into the intracranial cerebral circulation and embedded within the clot. Infusion of urokinase was then performed directly into the thrombus until lysis was attained.
Results: In 36 total patients, 27 cases were treated for an acute arterial occlusion in 45 vascular territories. Clinically, there was neurological improvement in 18 (66.7%) cases. Complications directly related to therapy included symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage in three cases (11.1%), which included 1 case (3.7%) of vessel perforation. In 8 (29.6%) patients, there was no evidence of clinical improvement, and in long-term follow-up there were 9 (33.3%) patient deaths. Nine patients were treated for an intracerebral dural sinus thrombosis in ten vascular territories by local urokinase infusion. In 7 (77.8%) cases, there was angiographic evidence of clot lysis and clinical improvement of the patient's neurological condition. Minor complications including infection and noncerebral sites of bleeding occurred in 3 (33.3%) patients, requiring adjustment in urokinase infusion therapy.
Conclusion: Local, direct intra-arterial or intravenous infusion of thrombolytic drugs for treatment of stroke patients may improve overall patient morbidity and mortality related to acute thromboembolic disease in the central nervous system. Further clinical studies are warranted to evaluate this form of therapy.