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Flow arrest with balloon guide catheters (BGCs) is becoming increasingly recognized as critical to optimizing patient outcomes for mechanical thrombectomy. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature for studies that compared angiographic and clinical outcomes for patients who underwent mechanical thrombectomy with and without BGCs.In April 2017 a literature search on BGC and mechanical thrombectomy for stroke was performed. All studies included patients treated with and without BGCs using modern techniques (ie, stent retrievers). Using random effects meta-analysis, we evaluated the following outcomes: first-pass recanalization, Thrombolysis In Cerebral Infarction (TICI) 3 recanalization, TICI 2b/3 recanalization, favorable outcome (modified Rankin Scale (mRS) 0–2), mortality, and mean number of passes and procedure time.Five non-randomized studies of 2022 patients were included (1083 BGC group and 939 non-BGC group). Compared with the non-BGC group, patients treated with BGCs had higher odds of first-pass recanalization (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.65 to 2.55), TICI 3 (OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.43 to 3.17), TICI 2b/3 (OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.97), and mRS 0–2 (OR 1.84, 95% CI 1.52 to 2.22). BGC-treated patients also had lower odds of mortality (OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.73) compared with non-BGC patients. The mean number of passes was significantly lower for BGC-treated patients (weighted mean difference −0.34, 95% CI−0.47 to −0.22). Mean procedure time was also significantly shorter for BGC-treated patients (weighted mean difference −7.7 min, 95% CI−9.0to −6.4).Non-randomized studies suggest that BGC use during mechanical thrombectomy for acute ischemic stroke is associated with superior clinical and angiographic outcomes. Further randomized trials are needed to confirm the results of this study.