Published online Dec 28, 2013. doi: 10.4329/wjr.v5.i12.450
Revised: November 11, 2013
Accepted: November 15, 2013
Published online: December 28, 2013
Since the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke trial, intravenous thrombolysis has been gaining wide acceptance as the modality of treatment for acute embolic stroke, with a current therapeutic window of up to 4.5 h. Both imaging [with either magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT)] and interventional techniques (thrombolysis and/or thrombectomy) have since improved and provided us with additional imaging of the penumbra using CT or MRI and more advanced thrombolysis or thrombectomy strategies that have been embraced in many centers dealing with patients with acute cerebral ischemia. These techniques, however, have come under scrutiny due to their accrued healthcare costs and have been questioned following major recent studies. These studies basically showed that interventional techniques were not superior to the traditional intravenous thrombolysis techniques and that penumbra imaging could not determine what patients would benefit from more aggressive (i.e., interventional) treatment. We discuss this in the light of the latest developments in both diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology and point out why further studies are needed in order to define the right choices for patients with acute stroke. Indeed, these studies were in part conducted with suboptimal patient recruitment strategies and did not always use the latest interventional techniques available today. So, while these studies may have raised some relevant questions, at the same time, definitive answers have not been given, in our opinion.
Core tip: While intravenous thrombolysis has gained wide acceptance as a major breakthrough for the acute treatment of stroke, interventional and diagnostic neuroradiology tools have also evolved at a very high rate, providing us with very sophisticated techniques to demonstrate brain tissue damage and revascularization techniques. However, these methods have not been evaluated properly until recently and have been adopted quickly by part of the clinical neuroscience community. A number of recent studies question the impact of these techniques.