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Predictors of Futile Recanalization in Ischemic Stroke Patients with low baseline NIHSS.

BACKGROUND: There is yet no randomized controlled evidence that mechanical thrombectomy (MT) is superior to best medical treatment in patients with large vessel occlusion but minor stroke symptoms (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] <6). Prior studies of patients with admission NIHSS scores >6 observed unfavorable functional outcomes despite successful recanalization, commonly termed as futile recanalization (FR), in up to 50% of cases.

AIM: The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of FR in patients with minor stroke and identify associated patient-specific risk factors.

METHODS: Our multicenter cohort study screened all patients prospectively enrolled in the German Stroke Registry Endovascular Treatment from 2015 to 2021 (n=13082). Included were patients who underwent MT for anterior circulation vessel occlusion with a baseline NIHSS score of <6 and successful recanalization (modified Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction [mTICI] score of 2b-3). FR was defined by a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score of 2-6 at 90 days. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted to explore factors associated with FR.

RESULTS: A total of 674 patients met the inclusion criteria. FR occurred in 268 (40%) patients. Multivariable logistic regression analysis indicates that higher age (adjusted odds ratio: 1.04 [95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.06]), pre-stroke mRS 1 (aOR: 2.70 [1.51-4.84]), transfer from admission hospital to comprehensive stroke center (aOR: 1.67 [1.08-2.56]), longer time from symptom onset/last seen well to admission (aOR: 1.02 [1.00-1.04]), MT under general anesthesia (aOR: 1.78 [1.13-2.82]), higher NIHSS after 24 hours (aOR: 1.09 [1.05-1.14]), and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (aOR: 16.88 [2.03-140.14]) increased the odds of FR. There was no significant difference in primary outcome between achieving mTICI 2b or 3.

CONCLUSIONS: Unfavorable functional outcomes despite successful vessel recanalization were frequent in acute ischemic stroke patients with low NIHSS scores on admission. We provide patient-specific risk factors that indicate an increased risk of FR and should be considered when treating patients with minor stroke.

DATA ACCESS STATEMENT: The data that support the findings of our study are available on reasonable request after approval of the GSR steering committee.

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