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Drug-coated balloons for the treatment of symptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis: initial experience and follow-up outcome


Background The optimal treatment for patients with symptomatic severe intracranial atherosclerotic disease is not well established. Angioplasty and stenting have been attempted, with controversial results, mainly attributed to perioperative complications and a high incidence of restenosis or in-stent restenosis. Drug-coated balloons (DCBs) have shown encouraging results for coronary and peripheral artery disease, without convincing data for intracranial vasculature.

Objectives To assess the feasibility, clinical and angiographic outcomes of DCBs for patients with intracranial de novo atherosclerotic disease.

Methods Between September 2016 and September 2017, details of 30 patients with 31 arteries treated with DCBs for symptomatic severe intracranial atherosclerotic disease (≥70% stenosis or chronic total occlusion) were retrospectively collected in our centre. All lesions were predilated with conventional balloons. Periprocedural complications and clinical and vascular imaging follow-up outcomes were analysed.

Results All arteries were successfully dilated with DCBs and 29 (93.5%) arteries achieved good antegrade perfusion, with remedial stenting for two arteries. Two patients presented with new ischemic stroke after the procedure. Over a mean follow-up of 9.8±2.6 months, no patient had recurrent ischemic symptoms. Repeat vascular imaging was performed at 7.0±1.1 months, with cerebral angiography in 24 patients (25 arteries) and MR angiography in six patients (six arteries). Only one (3.2%) artery presented with angiographic asymptomatic restenosis.

Conclusions This study suggests that DCB dilatation may be a safe and effective alternative for intracranial de novo atherosclerotic disease.

  • angiography
  • atherosclerosis
  • balloon
  • stroke

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