Mechanical thrombectomy (MT) is effective in treating ischemic strokes due to large vessel occlusion. However, the risk‐benefit ratio of intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) prior to MT is still unclear. Aim of the study was to provide a pooled analysis of only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing direct MT (dMT) vs bridging treatment (IVT+MT).
PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane Central were searched only for RCTs comparing IVT+MT vs dMT in ischemic stroke patients. Primary endpoint was functional independence at 90 days (mRS2a), mortality at 90 days and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (sICH). Odds ratios for endpoints were pooled with meta‐analysis and compared between reperfusion strategies.
The pooled analysis comprised 5 studies (n. patients = 1657). The rates for the primary endpoint were 39% and 34.5% for dMT and IVT+MT, respectively (OR 1.06; 95%CI 0.80–1.40). For the secondary endpoints, we did not observe significant differences between groups, even if the rate of successful recanalization was higher in IVT+MT treated patients (OR: 0.58; 95%CI 0.26–1.30;pheterogeneity = 0.002), without a significant increase in sICH rates (4.3% vs 5.5%; OR: 0.96; 95%CI 0.43–2.13;pheterogeneity = 0.26). Finally, mortality rates were 19.8% and 15.9% for dMT and IVT+MT, respectively.
In this meta‐analysis including only RCTs, dMT and bridging treatment were substantially equivalent for good functional outcome. IVT+MT was associated to higher rates of successful recanalization, even if not significant. Therefore, further adequately powered RCTs comparing dMT vs IVT+MT are warranted.