Background: Endovascular treatment (EVT) of extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) lesions in the setting of tandem occlusions is a challenge, being angioplasty alone (AA) or angioplasty+stenting (AS) the two current approaches. Hemorrhagic transformation (HT) is a major problem when a conventional [self-expanding (SX)] stent is placed, regarding the need of early double antiplatelet therapy. Interestingly, balloon-expanding (BX) stents, due to their less thrombogenicity, may constitute an alternative, so they do not need early antiplatelets. We aimed to study differences in ICA restenosis, HT, clinical outcome and stroke recurrence between patients treated with AA or AS.
Methods: Prospective study of consecutive patients with non-cardioembolic ischemic stroke and tandem occlusions, who underwent <6hours EVT from April 2013 to April 2017. We compared rate of ICA high-degree stenosis/occlusion at 24h, HT, clinical outcome (change in NIHSS at 24h and at discharge over NIHSS at admission, and mRS≥2 at 3 months) and stroke recurrence within 3 months between AA and AS (SX and BX stents) groups.
Results: Ninety-two patients fulfilled inclusion criteria: mean age 64.6±12.6 years. Forty (43.5%) received AA and 52 (56.5%) AS (61.5% SX stents, 38.5% BX stents). Both groups were comparable in baseline characteristics. Fifty (54.3%) received IV rtPA. Patients who underwent AA presented ICA high-degree stenosis/occlusion at 24h more frequently than those who underwent AS (86.5% vs. 21.2%, p <0.001). No differences were found in HT, clinical outcome and stroke recurrence (p>0.05 for all comparisons). In the AS group, all SX stents received antiplatelets after EVT, whereas in 75% of cases in the BX group no antiplatelets were started within 24h. However, no differences were found in ICA high-degree stenosis /occlusion at 24h, clinical outcome and stroke recurrence (p>0.05). We neither found differences in HT. Nevertheless, all cases were asymptomatic in the BX stents group.
Conclusions: Emergent ICA stenting seems to have a lower risk of restenosis compared to AA, without a significant increase of HT and stroke recurrence or a worse clinical outcome. BX stents, without early antiplatelet therapy, are a promising alternative to conventional carotid stents.