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Stroke. 1996 May;27(5):875-81.

Thrombolytic therapy of acute basilar artery occlusion. Variables affecting recanalization and outcome.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Heidelberg School of Medicine, Germany.



Thrombolysis may reduce mortality after acute basilar artery (BA) occlusion. We intended to find variables affecting recanalization and clinical outcome in patients with BA occlusion undergoing thrombolytic therapy.


We analyzed in retrospect the clinical and angiographic data of a consecutive series of 51 patients treated with intra-arterial urokinase (n = 44; 0.3 to 1.5 mIU) or intravenous or intra-arterial recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (n = 7; 22 to 100 mg). We identified effective variables by multiple logistic regression analyses and univariate tests.


Sites of occlusion were the caudal (n = 23), middle (n = 18), and distal (n = 10) segments of the BA. The pathogenesis was embolism in 35 and local atherothrombosis in 16 patients. Collateral circulation was good in 32 patients and poor or absent in 19 patients. Recanalization was achieved in 26 of 51 (51%) patients and was associated with occlusions of embolic etiology (P = .0025). Mortality was 46% (12/26) in the recanalization group and 92% (23/25) in the nonrecanalization group (P = .0004). Other independent variables affecting mortality were length of BA obstruction (P = .0011), age (P = .0008), and collateral state (P = .0454). After follow-up (median, 32 months), 10 of the 16 survivors were only minimally impaired, with a Barthel Index score of 95 or greater; 5 patients were moderately and 1 severely disabled.


Recanalization of acute BA occlusion reduces mortality significantly. Length of BA obstruction and state of the collaterals are additional independent variables affecting survival. Young patients with monosegmental embolic occlusion of the BA seem to have the best chance to considerably profit from thrombolysis.

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