Randomized trials of endovascular therapy for stroke — impact on stroke care

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Five trials that investigated the efficacy of modern endovascular therapies for stroke — MR CLEAN, ESCAPE, SWIFT PRIME, EXTEND IA and REVASCAT — have been published within the past year, changing the landscape of acute stroke management. The trials used a variety of imaging modalities and combinations of treatment approaches, including the mandatory use of intravenous thrombolysis before the initiation of endovascular therapy. All five trials provided strong evidence to support the use of thrombectomy that is initiated within 6 h of stroke onset, prompting worldwide changes in the guidelines for management of acute stroke by endovascular treatment. The benefits of endovascular therapy were observed irrespective of a patient's age, their NIH Stroke Scale score, or whether they received intravenous thrombolysis. In this article, we review the main findings of these recent trials, focusing on key aspects of their designs, and discuss their impact on the future management of patients with acute stroke that results from large-vessel occlusion. We discuss the values of noncontrast CT ASPECTS, perfusion imaging and angiography for selecting patients to receive endovascular interventions. We also consider the role of thrombectomy beyond 6 h after stroke onset, and in patients with posterior circulation strokes.

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