Background: The presence of extracranial carotid disease (ECD) is associated with less favorable clinical outcomes in patients with acute ischemic stroke caused by intracranial proximal occlusion. Acute intra-arterial treatment (IAT) in the setting of extracranial and intracranial lesions is considered challenging, and whether it yields improved outcomes remains uncertain.
Objective: To examine whether the presence of ECD modified the effect of IAT for intracranial proximal anterior circulation occlusion.
Design: Prespecified subgroup analysis of a randomized clinical trial of endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke in the Netherlands. (Trial registrations: NTR1804 [Netherlands Trial Register] and ISRCTN10888758) Setting: 16 hospitals in the Netherlands.
Patients: Acute ischemic stroke caused by proximal intracranial arterial occlusion of the anterior circulation. Extracranial carotid disease was defined as cervical internal carotid artery stenosis (>50%) or occlusion.
Intervention: IAT treatment versus no IAT. Measurements: The primary outcome was functional outcome, as measured by the modified Rankin Scale at 90 days and reported as adjusted common odds ratio (acOR) for a shift in direction of a better outcome. Multivariable ordinal logistic regression analysis with an interaction term was used to estimate treatment effect modification by ECD.
Results: The overall acOR was 1.67 (95% CI, 1.21 to 2.30) in favor of the intervention. The acOR was 3.1 (CI, 1.7 to 5.8) in the prespecified subgroup of patients with ECD versus 1.3 (CI, 0.9 to 1.9) in patients presenting without ECD. Both acORs are in favor of the intervention (P for interaction = 0.07). Limitation: The study was not powered for subgroup analysis.
Conclusion: Intra-arterial treatment may be at least as effective in patients with ECD as in those without ECD, and it should not be withheld in these complex patients with acute ischemic stroke.