Background and purpose: This study was undertaken to examine the relationship between collateral flow and outcome after local intraarterial thrombolytic treatment for basilar artery thrombosis.
Methods: Twenty-four patients with symptomatic basilar thrombosis were treated with intraarterial urokinase. Angiograms at the time of treatment were analyzed to characterize collateral flow. The number of posterior communicating arteries (PCoAs) and the degree of collateral filling of the basilar artery were then compared with symptom duration before treatment, with Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score at the time of treatment, with 90-day modified Rankin score, and with 90-day survival status.
Results: Of the 20 patients who had carotid artery injections at the time of the thrombolytic procedure, two had no PCoA, eight had one PCoA, and 10 had two PCoAs. Nine had no collateral opacification of the basilar artery, six had collateral opacification of the distal basilar artery, and five had collateral opacification of the distal and proximal basilar artery. Ninety-day survival was 38%; 25% of patients had good neurologic outcomes. No correlation was found between the number of PCoAs and symptom duration, pretreatment GCS score, survival, or neurologic outcome. Duration of symptoms before treatment was longer in patients with collateral flow to the basilar artery. Basilar artery collateral flow did not correlate with survival, but it did correlate with neurologic outcome for the 12 patients with middle or distal basilar artery thrombus in whom collateral flow to the basilar artery was assessed (83% with collateral flow had good neurologic outcomes, but only 17% without collateral flow had good outcomes). All six patients with proximal basilar artery thrombus in whom collateral flow was assessed died, independent of the collateral flow observed.
Conclusion: In symptomatic acute basilar artery thrombosis, neurologic outcome was better after intraarterial thrombolysis in patients who had collateral filling of the basilar artery, except in cases of proximal basilar thrombosis. Patients with collateral filling of the basilar artery also tolerated longer symptom duration.