Tandem internal carotid artery/middle cerebral artery occlusion: an independent predictor of poor outcome after systemic thrombolysis

Marta Rubiera, Marc Ribo, Raquel Delgado-Mederos, Esteban Santamarina, Pilar Delgado, Joan Montaner, José Alvarez-Sabín, Carlos A Molina
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2006, 37 (9): 2301-5

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Although tandem internal carotid artery/middle cerebral artery (MCA; TIM) occlusion has been associated with low recanalization rate after IV tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), its independent contribution on stroke outcome remains unknown. Moreover, whether the relative resistance to thrombolysis in tandem lesions varies depending on the location of MCA clot remains uncertain.

METHODS: Two hundred and twenty-one consecutive stroke patients with an acute MCA occlusion treated with IV tPA were studied. Emergent carotid artery ultrasound and transcranial Doppler (TCD) examinations were performed in all patients before treatment. Recanalization was assessed on TCD at 2 hours of tPA bolus. National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores were obtained at baseline and after 24 hours. Modifed Rankin Scale score was used to assess outcome at 3 months.

RESULTS: Median prebolus NIHSS score was 16 points. On TCD, 156 (71.6%) patients had a proximal and 65 (29.4%) a distal MCA occlusion. TIM occlusion was identified in 44 (19.9%) patients. Eighteen (41.9%) patients with and 123 (69.5%) without TIM lesions achieved an MCA recanalization (P=0.01). In a logistic regression model, hyperglycemia >140 mg/dL (odds ratio [OR] 3.3, 95% CI, 1.6 to 6.8) and the presence of TIM occlusion (OR 2.8, 95% CI, 1.1 to 6.9) emerged as independent predictors of absence of recanalization. However, the independent contribution of TIM lesions on poor response to thrombolysis varied depending on the location of MCA occlusion. TIM occlusion independently predicted resistance to thrombolysis in patients with proximal (OR 4.63, 95% CI, 1.79 to 11.96), but not in those with distal MCA occlusion. Patients with TIM occlusion had worse short- (P<0.0001) and long-term (P<0.0001) clinical outcome.

CONCLUSIONS: TIM occlusion independently predicts poor outcome after IV thrombolysis. However, its impact varies depending on the location of MCA clot. Therefore, emergent carotid ultrasound plus TCD examinations may improve the selection of patients for more aggressive reperfusion strategies.

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