Background: Whether bridging treatment combining intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) and endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) is superior to direct EVT alone for emergent large vessel occlusion (LVO) in the anterior circulation is unknown. A systematic review and a meta-analysis were performed to investigate and assess the effect and safety of bridging treatment vs. direct EVT in patients with LVO in the anterior circulation.
Methods: PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane library were searched to assess the effect and safety of bridging treatment and direct EVT in LVO. Functional independence, mortality, asymptomatic and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (aICH and sICH, respectively), and successful recanalization were evaluated. The risk ratio and the 95% CI were analyzed.
Results: Among the eight studies included, there was no significant difference in the long-term functional independence (OR = 1.008, 95% CI = 0.845–1.204, P = 0.926), mortality (OR = 1.060, 95% CI = 0.840–1.336, P = 0.624), recanalization rate (OR = 1.015, 95% CI = 0.793–1.300, P = 0.905), and the incidence of sICH (OR = 1.320, 95% CI = 0.931–1.870, P = 0.119) between bridging therapy and direct EVT. After adjusting for confounding factors, bridging therapy showed a lower recanalization rate (effect size or ES = −0.377, 95% CI = −0.684 to −0.070, P = 0.016), but there was no significant difference in the long-term functional independence (ES = 0.057, 95% CI = −0.177 to 0.291, P = 0.634), mortality (ES = 0.693, 95% CI = −0.133 to 1.519, P = 0.100), and incidence of sICH (ES = −0.051, 95% CI = −0.687 to 0.585, P = 0.875) compared with direct EVT. Meanwhile, in the subgroup analysis of RCT, no significant difference was found in the long-term functional independence (OR = 0.927, 95% CI = 0.727–1.182, P = 0.539), recanalization rate (OR = 1.331, 95% CI = 0.948–1.867, P = 0.099), mortality (OR = 1.072, 95% CI = 0.776–1.481, P = 0.673), and sICH incidence (OR = 1.383, 95% CI = 0.806–2.374, P = 0.977) between patients receiving bridging therapy and those receiving direct DVT.
Conclusion: For stroke patients with acute anterior circulation occlusion and who are eligible for intravenous thrombolysis, there is no significant difference in the clinical effect between direct EVT and bridging therapy, which needs to be verified by more randomized controlled trials.