Major Finding: Use of the MERCI clot retrieval device resulted in successful recanalization in 80% of patients, good 90-day functional outcomes in 32%, and 33% mortality.
Data Source: The MERCI patient registry of 1,000 patients with acute ischemic stroke who were treated consecutively at 37 U.S. centers.
Disclosures: Concentric Medical, the manufacturer of the MERCI device, sponsored the MERCI registry. Dr. Rymer reported being on the speakers bureau of the company. The five other coauthors reported varying relationships with Concentric, including being consultants or medical advisers, and having an ownership interest in Concentric.
LOS ANGELES – Results of the MERCI patient registry appear to uphold findings from the device's two pivotal trials of patients with acute ischemic stroke, which demonstrated that successful recanalization is significantly associated with good outcomes.
But audience members who spoke at the conference following the presentation of the registry results emphasized – to the applause of others in the audience – that the MERCI device lacks randomized data proving its safety and efficacy, and that reported outcomes for patients have not been stratified according to intubation status.
The registry is a large, nonrandomized case series documenting the postapproval use of the devices, whereas the two pivotal trials (MERCI and Multi MERCI) had strict inclusion and exclusion criteria and protocols but did not compare the device to medical therapy. Device-treated patients in the trials were instead compared with a placebo group from a randomized medical trial, called PROACT II (Prolyse in Acute Cerebral Thromboembolism).
At the conference, Dr. Marilyn Rymer presented the 90-day outcomes of 1,000 patients with acute ischemic stroke in the registry who were treated with the MERCI clot retriever embolectomy device. The MERCI (Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia) and Multi MERCI studies examined embolectomy with the device in similar patient groups, with a total of 305 patients.
“The registry is designed to answer the question, 'What does the real-world, unrestrained treatment of ischemic stroke with this device look like?'” said Dr. Rymer, a medical director of the Brain and Stroke Institute at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. However, she noted that because the registry consists of nonrandomized cases, the efficacy implied in it “can't be compared to a medical therapy.”
The participating sites included every consecutive patient who was treated with the device. Treatment remained a clinical decision guided by each site's general practice. The inclusion criteria were a diagnosis of acute ischemic stroke and at least one pass with the tool.
The primary end point was revascularization with a TICI (Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction) scale grade of 2a or higher; there was also a secondary functional outcome, which was the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score at 90 days. The final analysis included 872 patients as a result of excluding 4 with insufficient procedural data and 90 who were disabled before their stroke with an mRS of 2 or more, as well as losing 34 to follow-up.
The patients' median age was 68 years, compared with the median age of 72 in the trials. There was wide intersite variability with regard to age: At one site, the median age of patients treated was 58, and at another the median age of patients treated was 72.
“We saw the same kind of variation in terms of baseline National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] score,” Dr. Rymer said at the conference, which was sponsored by the American Heart Association. “The median in the registry was 17, while it was 21 in the trials.” Median NIHSS scores also varied across the registry sites (range, 14–21), she said.
Overall, 305 patients received intravenous thrombolytic therapy, “But there was an incredible variation among sites” in the use of thrombolytics in conjunction with embolectomy (range, 0%-71%). Intra-arterial thrombolytic therapy also varied widely: Some 47% of patients overall received it, but the intersite rate varied from 7% to 100%.
Overall, 63% of patients were intubated, with the rate varying from 12% to 100%. “Several sites used intubation routinely in 100% of their patients, and some intubated only for airway protection. This becomes important as we begin to understand that intubation is associated with a worse outcome,” Dr. Rymer said.
Most sites treated fewer than 19% of patients with angioplasty or stenting in addition to clot retrieval, but one site employed these additional treatments in 64% of patients.
The time from symptom onset to groin insertion was 6.3 hours, compared with 4.5 hours in the MERCI trials. Most patients (71%) were treated 3–8 hours after symptom onset.