More expansive horizons: A review of endovascular therapy for patients with low NIHSS scores

David J. McCarthy, Daniel A. Tonetti, Jeremy Stone, Robert M. Starke, Sandra Narayanan, Michael J. Lang, Ashutosh P. Jadhav, Bradley A. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


While the landmark 2015 stroke trials demonstrated that endovascular therapy (EVT) was superior to medical management for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke due to large vessel occlusion, the efficacy of EVT for patients presenting with a low NIHSS score remains undetermined. We conducted a review of the EVT low National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) stroke literature, identifying 24 quantitative and six qualitative publications. Details of study designs and outcome were extracted and critically discussed. All identified qualitative studies were retrospective. There was significant study design heterogeneity, with 18 unique study designs between the 24 identified quantitative manuscripts. Study investigations included low NIHSS EVT feasibility (n=6), EVT versus best medical management (BMM; n=10), EVT versus intravenous therapy (IVT, n=3), and low NIHSS score versus high NIHSS score (n=3). From single-arm EVT feasibility studies, the reported ranges of modified Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage were 78-97% and 0-10%, respectively. The EVT versus BMM literature had heterogeneous results with 40% reporting benefit with EVT and 60% reporting neutral findings. None of the studies comparing EVT with IVT reported a difference between the two revascularization therapies. The four identified meta-analyses had incongruent inclusion criteria and conflicting results. Two randomized trials are currently investigating EVT in patients with a low NIHSS score. Selected meta-analyses do suggest a potential benefit of EVT over BMM; however, current and future randomized clinical trials will better elucidate the efficacy of EVT in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-151
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurointerventional surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • stroke
  • thrombectomy
  • thrombolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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