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Original research
Reasons for failed endovascular recanalization attempts in stroke patients


Purpose Mechanical thrombectomy (MT) is a highly effective therapy in patients with acute ischemic stroke due to large vessel occlusion (LVO). However, complete recanalization of the occluded vessel cannot be achieved in all patients, leading to poor clinical outcome. We analyzed the reasons for failed recanalization to help direct future improvements in therapy.

Methods 648 consecutive stroke patients with LVO and an MT attempt were retrospectively analyzed for none or minimal recanalization, assessed according to the Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction (TICI) score (0/1). Procedural parameters were evaluated in a standardized approach. Among other variables, number of retrieval attempts, devices, duration of the intervention, and rescue methods were analyzed.

Results TICI 0/1 was observed in 72/648 patients (11%). In these patients, the thrombus could not be reached in 21% (n=15/72), was reached but not passed in 21% (n=15/72), and was reached and passed in 58% (n=42/72). Only a minor degree of initial recanalization was achieved in 19% (n=8/42) of patients with a reached occlusion during the course of the intervention. Furthermore, a higher number of passes with a single retriever device led to significant prolongation of the intervention. Therefore, major reasons for failed endovascular recanalization were difficult anatomical access and hard or resistant occlusions that might reflect hard thrombi or pre-existing atherosclerotic stenosis. Procedural complications such as dissection or perforation played a minor role.

Conclusion In stroke patients with failed MT attempts, approximately 60% of occlusions can be passed. In such cases, rescue therapy might be considered to improve recanalization and clinical outcome. Further development of access devices might help in the remaining cases where the microcatheter could not be manipulated to or through the occlusion.

  • stroke
  • thrombectomy
  • angiography

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