Combined Stent Placement and Thrombolysis in Acute Vertebrobasilar Ischemic Stroke

Doris D.M. Lin, Philippe Gailloud, Norman J. Beauchamp, Eric M. Aldrich, Robert J. Wityk, Kieran J. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Acute vertebrobasilar ischemic stroke is often associated with high morbidity and mortality with limited therapeutic options. Endovascular treatment with thrombolysis has offered some hope for affected patients; however, overall outcomes have been less than satisfactory. In this report, we present the results of our approach in six consecutive cases of acute vertebrobasilar ischemic stroke by combined proximal vessel stent placement and thrombolysis. METHODS: Six consecutive cases were retrospectively reviewed for the clinical outcome of patients presenting to our institution with acute posterior circulation stroke who underwent cerebral revascularization including proximal arterial stent placement by using balloon-expandable coronary stents and intraarterial thrombolysis. All of these patients were initially evaluated by stroke team neurologists and imaged with MR, including diffusion-weighted imaging documenting acute posterior circulation stroke. MR angiography of the circle of Willis was also obtained. Short-term follow-up was conducted to assess National Institutes of Health stroke scores (NIHSS) and modified Rankin scores. RESULTS: In these six cases, a combined approach of proximal arterial stent placement (five cases of vertebral artery origin and one case of carotid and subclavian stent placement plus vertebral artery revascularization) and thrombolysis was performed at variable times after stroke onset (range, 30 hours to 5 days). Four of the six patients had good basilar artery recanalization (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction [TIMI] grade 0-1 before tissue plasminogen activator thrombolysis and TIMI grade 2 after procedure). Four of six patients had excellent immediate recovery and were discharged to an acute rehabilitation unit or their homes with improved neurologic symptoms and functional status. Two patients died: one patient presented with coma at outset with an NIHSS of 38, and the other patient probably had reocclusion of the basilar artery within 24 hours despite initial postprocedural improvement. CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that, in the setting of acute stroke, stent placement in combination with revascularization and thrombolysis is practical and allows quick access to a clot and simultaneously increases perfusion through collaterals during the thrombolytic process. In particular, basilar thrombolysis may be facilitated by proximal vertebral stent placement as concomitant atheromatous vertebrobasilar stenosis is common.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1827-1833
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology

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