In view of the poor prognosis for patients with acute intracranial vertebrobasilar occlusion (VBO), factors were sought that predict survival and good neurologic outcome after acute endovascular treatment by means of local intra-arterial fibrinolysis (LIF) and percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA). LIF was performed in 83 patients with angiographically established acute VBO. A significant residual stenosis after LIF was treated by additional PTA in 8 patients. The types of occlusion were classified as either embolic occlusion (EO) or atherothrombotic occlusion (AO). Outcome was evaluated after 3 months by the Barthel Index (BI) as favorable (BI >90), unfavorable (BI <90) or death and compared for each of 3 diagnostic or treatment variables: recanalization success, occlusion type and time to treatment. Four fibrinolytic treatment modes [urokinase, low-dose and high-dose recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator (rt-PA), rt-PA + Lys-plasminogen] were also analyzed. The outcome was favorable in 19 patients (23%), unfavorable in 14 (17%) and 50 died (60%). Recanalization was successful in 54 patients (66%). The neurologic outcome was better in recanalized than in nonrecanalized patients (favorable outcome: 30 vs. 10%, mortality: 54 vs. 72%; p = 0.118). The neurologic outcome was better in EO than in AO (favorable outcome: 31 vs. 17%, mortality: 47 vs. 70%, p = 0.112). Under combined treatment by LIF and PTA in 8 patients with AO, 4 survived, 3 with a favorable outcome (38%). Early treatment onset (≤6 h) led to a significantly better neurologic outcome than delayed treatment onset (>6 h; favorable outcome: 36 vs. 7%, mortality: 52 vs. 70%, p = 0.005). Although no statistically significant differences were found between the types of fibrinolytic agents, treatment with rt-PA and Lys-plasminogen tended toward better results. Early treatment onset proved to be the most important factor for successful endovascular therapy in acute VBO, whereas recanalization and presence of an embolic occlusion also tended toward better results. Additional PTA may be a promising therapy in cases of significant residual stenosis after LIF.

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