From the Journals

Pediatric stroke thrombectomy study sheds light on off-label procedure



Off-label endovascular recanalization shows signs of safety and effectiveness in children with acute, large-vessel ischemic stroke, based on data from a retrospective, multicenter study of 73 patients.

Children with high scores on the Pediatric National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (PedNIHSS) or large-vessel occlusion in the anterior or posterior circulation are at increased risk for morbidity and mortality, but the safety of thrombectomy in children has not been well studied. Several randomized trials have showed its safety and efficacy in adults, wrote Peter Sporns, MD, of the Institute of Clinical Radiology at Universitätsklinikum Muenster (Germany), and colleagues.

In a study published in JAMA Neurology, Dr. Sporns and coauthors reviewed data from pediatric patients aged younger than 18 years who underwent endovascular recanalization between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2018, at 25 stroke centers in Europe and 2 in the United States.

The primary outcome was change in the PedNIHSS scores and the endovascular recanalization involved “a combination of techniques using distal thrombaspiration and/or clot retrievers,” the researchers wrote.

Neurologic outcomes improved from a median PedNIHSS score of 14.0 at hospital admission to 4.0 at day 7. The average time from stroke onset to hospital admission was 3 hours, and the median time from stroke onset to recanalization was 4 hours.

“The rapidity of recanalization across the large number of centers in the Save ChildS study is a commendable achievement, establishing feasibility for acute pediatric stroke treatment within the short window of time for embolectomy at centers prepared for this event,” wrote Christine Fox, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and Nomazulu Dlamini, MBBS, PhD, of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, in an accompanying editorial.

In addition, the median modified Rankin Scale score was 1.0 at discharge and at 6 and 24 months, and the median Pediatric Stroke Outcome Measure score was 1.0 at discharge and 0.5 at 6 and 24 months.

The median age of the patients was 11 years, and approximately half were boys (51%). A total of 63 children (86%) were treated for anterior circulation occlusion, and 10 (14%) were treated for posterior circulation occlusion; (22%) received concomitant intravenous thrombolysis.

Transient vasospasm was the only observed periprocedural complication, seen in four patients, and all cases resolved without clinical sequelae. One patient with a history of a heart anomaly died of cardiac arrest after recanalization. No vascular complications were reported, and the proportion of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage events was 1.37 per 100 observations, compared with 2.79 in a meta-analysis of adult studies.

The main limitation of the study was its retrospective design, as well as the absence of a control group, the researchers noted. However, the results “may support clinicians’ practice of off-label thrombectomy in childhood stroke in the absence of high-level evidence.”

The editorial authors emphasized that safety concerns remain despite the relatively low level of complications observed in the current study. “The safety of thrombectomy in children with suspected focal cerebral arteriopathy or bilateral arteriopathies is a particular concern because of the potential to further injure an acutely inflamed or chronically diseased vessel,” they wrote.

“We should be cautious about the interpretation of long-term outcome measures in the Save ChildS study,” Dr. Fox and Dr. Dlamini added, noting that additional multicenter studies are needed “to advance our knowledge of pediatric stroke and inform best practices.”

Dr. Sporns had no financial conflicts to disclose; several coauthors disclosed relationships with multiple pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Fox and Dr. Dlamini had no financial conflicts to disclose.

SOURCES: Sporns P et al. JAMA Neurol. 2019 Oct 14. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3403; Fox C, Dlamini N. JAMA Neurol. 2019 Oct 14. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.3412.

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