Intraluminal thrombus in the cerebral circulation. Implications for surgical management.
Buchan A., Gates P., Pelz D., Barnett HJ.
Thrombi defined as intraluminal filling defects detected by angiography were identified in 30 patients (29 in the carotid system, one in the vertebral artery). Stroke was the presentation ipsilateral to the thrombus in 22 patients (12 had previous transient ischemic attacks), transient ischemic attacks occurred alone in seven cases, and one patient was asymptomatic. Angiography revealed a severe stenosis in association with the thrombus in 23 patients, a moderate stenosis in four patients, and, in the three patients with only minimal stenosis presumably due to atherosclerosis, there was evidence for a coagulopathy. Sixteen of the 30 patients were operated on urgently, 10 within 24 hours of detection of the thrombus. Twelve of these 16 surgical patients were given anticoagulation before surgery. At endarterectomy, thrombus was identified in 11 of the 14 surgical patients in whom the thrombus was accessible; the other two surgical patients had intracranial thrombus only. In this group, four of 11 surgical patients with accessible thrombi suffered perioperative episodes of new or larger infarction. Fourteen of the 30 patients initially received medical management with no complication. Eight of these 14 medical patients had repeat angiography; seven exhibited complete resolution of thrombus, and six of these seven patients subsequently underwent delayed endarterectomy for the stenosis. No thrombus was identified at surgery in any of the six. One of the six delayed surgery patients suffered a perioperative stroke. Although these numbers are small, reflecting the rarity of thrombus demonstrated by angiography, undetected thrombus is often found at endarterectomy. Its presence may increase operative risk.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)