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Early technique switch following failed passes during mechanical thrombectomy for ischemic stroke: should the approach change and when?

BACKGROUND: Fast and complete reperfusion in endovascular therapy (EVT) for ischemic stroke leads to superior clinical outcomes. The effect of changing the technical approach following initially unsuccessful passes remains undetermined.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between early changes to the EVT approach and reperfusion.

METHODS: Multicenter retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data for patients who underwent EVT for intracranial internal carotid artery, middle cerebral artery (M1/M2), or basilar artery occlusions. Changes in EVT technique after one or two failed passes with stent retriever (SR), contact aspiration (CA), or a combined technique (CT) were compared with repeating the previous strategy. The primary outcome was complete/near-complete reperfusion, defined as an expanded Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction (eTICI) of 2c-3, following the second and third passes.

RESULTS: Among 2968 included patients, median age was 66 years and 52% were men. Changing from SR to CA on the second or third pass was not observed to influence the rates of eTICI 2c-3, whereas changing from SR to CT after two failed passes was associated with higher chances of eTICI 2c-3 (OR=5.3, 95% CI 1.9 to 14.6). Changing from CA to CT was associated with higher eTICI 2c-3 chances after one (OR=2.9, 95% CI 1.6 to 5.5) or two (OR=2.7, 95% CI 1.0 to 7.4) failed CA passes, while switching to SR was not significantly associated with reperfusion. Following one or two failed CT passes, switching to SR was not associated with different reperfusion rates, but changing to CA after two failed CT passes was associated with lower chances of eTICI 2c-3 (OR=0.3, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.9). Rates of functional independence were similar.

CONCLUSIONS: Early changes in EVT strategies were associated with higher reperfusion and should be contemplated following failed attempts with stand-alone CA or SR.

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