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General anesthesia or conscious sedation for thrombectomy in stroke patients: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis.

PURPOSE: Endovascular treatment for stroke patients usually requires anesthesia care, with no current consensus on the best anesthetic management strategy. Several randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses have attempted to address this. In 2022, additional evidence from three new trials was published: the GASS trial, the CANVAS II trial, and preliminary results from the AMETIS trial, prompting the execution of this updated systematic review and meta-analysis. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of general anesthesia and conscious sedation on functional outcomes measured with the modified Rankin scale (mRS) at three months.

METHODS: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials investigating conscious sedation and general anesthesia in endovascular treatment. The following databases were examined: PubMed, Scopus, Embase, and the Cochrane Database of Randomized Controlled Trials and Systematic Reviews. The Risk of Bias 2 tool was used to assess bias. In addition, trial sequence analysis was performed on the primary outcome to estimate if the cumulative effect is significant enough to be unaffected by further studies.

RESULTS: Nine randomized controlled trials were identified, including 1,342 patients undergoing endovascular treatment for stroke. No significant differences were detected between general anesthesia and conscious sedation with regards to mRS, functional independence (mRS, 0-2), procedure duration, onset to reperfusion, mortality, hospital length of stay, and intensive care unit length of stay. Patients treated under general anesthesia may have more frequent successful reperfusion, though the time from groin to reperfusion was slightly longer. Trial sequential analysis showed that additional trials are unlikely to show marked differences in mean mRS at three months.

CONCLUSIONS: In this updated systematic review and meta-analysis, the choice of anesthetic strategy for endovascular treatment of stroke patients did not significantly impact functional outcome as measured with the mRS at three months. Patients managed with general anesthesia may have more frequent successful reperfusion.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO (CRD42022319368); registered 19 April 2022.

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