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Endovascular mechanical thrombectomy (MT) for the treatment of acute stroke due to large vessel occlusion has evolved significantly with the publication of multiple positive thrombectomy trials. MT is now a recommended treatment for acute ischemic stroke. Mechanical thrombectomy is associated with a number of intra-procedural or post-operative complications, which need to be minimized and effectively managed to maximize the benefits of thrombectomy. Procedural complications include: access-site problems (vessel/nerve injury, access-site hematoma and groin infection); device-related complications (vasospasm, arterial perforation and dissection, device detachment/misplacement); symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage; subarachnoid hemorrhage; embolization to new or target vessel territory. Other complications include: anesthetic/contrast-related, post-operative hemorrhage, extra-cranial hemorrhage and pseudoaneurysm. Some complications are life-threatening and many lead to increased length of stay in intensive care and stroke units. Complications increase costs and delay the commencement of rehabilitation. Some may be preventable; the impact of others can be minimized with early detection and appropriate management. Both neurointerventionists and stroke specialists need to be aware of the risk factors, strategies for prevention, and management of these complications. With the increasing use of mechanical thrombectomy for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke, incidence and outcome of complications will need to be carefully monitored by stroke teams. In this narrative review, we examine the frequency of complications of MT in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke with an emphasis on periprocedural complications. Overall, from recent randomized controlled trials, the risk of complications with sequelae for patient from mechanical thrombectomy is ∼15%. We discuss the management of complications and identify areas with limited evidence, which need further research. Search strategy and selection criteria Relevant evidence was found by searches of Medline and Cochrane Library, reference list, cross-referencing and main journal content pages. Search terms included "brain ischemia", "acute ischemic stroke", "cerebral infarction" AND "mechanical thrombectomy", "endovascular therapy", "endovascular treatment", "endovascular embolectomy", "intra-arterial" AND "randomized controlled trial", "non-randomised trials", "observational studies" AND "complications", "procedural complications", "peri-procedural complications", "device-related complications", "management", "treatment", "outcome". The search included only human studies, and was limited to studies published in English between January 2014 and November 2016. The final reference list was selected on the basis of relevance to the topics covered in the Review. Guidelines for management of acute ischaemic stroke by the American Heart Association, the European Stroke Organisation, multi-disciplinary guidelines and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) were also reviewed.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Stroke

Publication Date





348 - 361


Acute ischemic stroke, acute stroke therapy, complications of endovascular mechanical thrombectomy, endovascular mechanical thrombectomy, management of complications, prevention of complications, Arteries, Brain Ischemia, Cerebral Hemorrhage, Clinical Trials as Topic, Endovascular Procedures, Humans, Intracranial Embolism, Intraoperative Complications, Mechanical Thrombolysis, Postoperative Complications, Prosthesis Failure, Punctures, Radiation Dosage, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Stents, Stroke, Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Vascular Closure Devices, Vasospasm, Intracranial