Role of anesthesia in endovascular stroke therapy

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Recent randomized clinical trials have demonstrated strong efficacy of endovascular therapy (EVT) for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) from large vessel occlusions; in the USA alone, tens of thousands of patients annually may benefit. The impact of the type of anesthesia used during mechanical thrombectomy on patient outcomes remains controversial. This review discusses the current literature on the effects of anesthesia type on patient outcome following endovascular stroke therapy.

Recent findings

EVT is the standard of treatment for intracranial large vessel occlusions. Recent studies show that general anesthesia is associated with negative clinical outcome in AIS patients undergoing EVT. Two of the possible mechanisms of this finding are systolic hypotension and hypocapnia. However, the only published randomized controlled studies to date, sedation vs. intubation for endovascular stroke treatment and anesthesia during stroke showed no difference in short-term clinical outcome between EVT patients treated with general anesthesia and conscious sedation and improved longer-term outcome in the general anesthesia group.

Summary

Retrospective reports, and the 2015 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Guideline (focused update of the 2013 guidelines for the early management of patients with AIS regarding endovascular treatment) based on these reports, are in favor of sedation (conscious sedation) over general anesthesia for endovascular stroke thrombectomy. However, the two randomized controlled prospective studies published provide inconclusive evidence as to the best anesthetic practice for endovascular stroke therapy. More randomized clinical trials are needed to optimize anesthetic patient care in AIS.

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