Complex decision-making in stroke: preoperative mechanical thrombectomy of septic embolus for emergency cardiac valve surgery

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Stroke is a common and devastating embolic manifestation of infective endocarditis. We report a case of cardioembolic stroke in a patient with enterococcal endocarditis, with National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score of 3. A middle-aged patient with bacterial endocarditis exhibited mild intermittent left hemiparesis and dysarthria in the setting of severe aortic insufficiency requiring urgent aortic valve replacement. Cerebrovascular imaging revealed a partially occlusive thrombus in the M1 segment of the right middle cerebral artery, which became symptomatic during relative hypotension. Given the expected hypotension during the urgently needed aortic valve replacement, there was a significant risk of infarction of most of the right hemisphere. Thus, mechanical thrombectomy was performed immediately prior to thoracotomy, and the patient awoke neurologically intact. This case demonstrates avoidance of a large stroke due to a subocclusive thrombus and anticipated intraoperative hypotension with preoperative mechanical thrombectomy.

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