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Clinical evidence comparing bridging and direct endovascular thrombectomy: progress and controversies


Clinical evidence comparing bridging endovascular thrombectomy (bEVT) with intravenous thrombolysis and direct endovascular thrombectomy (dEVT) without thrombolysis for patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) presented directly to an EVT-capable center is overwhelming but inconsistent. This study aimed to analyze the progress and controversies in clinical evidence based on current meta-analyses. Three databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library, were searched. Relevant data were extracted and reviewed from the pooled studies. The Assessment of Multiple Systematic Review (AMSTAR-2) was used for quality assessment. Twenty-five meta-analyses were finally included. There were 56% (14/25) from Asian countries, 20% (5/25) from North America, and 24% (6/25) from Europe. The majority (72%, 18/25) of evidence arose in a short period from 2020 to 2022 with the serial publication of four randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Among the 25 meta-analyses, 11 pooled at least three RCTs but there is substantial overlap among seven (five recruited the same four RCTs solely and two recruited the same three RCTs solely). Meanwhile, quality rating based on AMSTAR-2 showed 16 ‘high’ rated studies (64%). For functional independence, 40% (10/25) of studies favored bEVT and 60% showed neutral results. For symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage, most studies (82.6%, 19/23) showed no significant difference. Non-RCT studies contributed to evidence favoring bEVT. Current RCTs provide an update of clinical evidence comparing bEVT and dEVT. However, they simultaneously contribute to an unnecessary overlap among studies. Contemporary observational studies demonstrated different but possibly confounded evidence. Thus, this issue still requires more clinical evidence under standard procedures.

  • stroke
  • thrombectomy
  • thrombolysis

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