The overall risk of ischemic stroke from a chronically occluded internal carotid artery (COICA) is around 5%–7% per year despite receiving the best available medical therapy. Here, authors propose a radiographic classification of COICA that can be used as a guide to determine the technical success and safety of endovascular recanalization for symptomatic COICA and to assess the changes in systemic blood pressure following successful revascularization.
The radiographic images of 100 consecutive subjects with COICA were analyzed. A new classification of COICA was proposed based on the morphology, location of occlusion, and presence or absence of reconstitution of the distal ICA. The classification was used to predict successful revascularization in 32 symptomatic COICAs in 31 patients, five of whom were female (5/31 [16.13%]). Patients were included in the study if they had a COICA with ischemic symptoms refractory to medical therapy. Carotid artery occlusion was defined as 100% cross-sectional occlusion of the vessel lumen as documented on CTA or MRA and confirmed by digital subtraction angiography.
Four types (A–D) of radiographic COICA were identified. Types A and B were more amenable to safe revascularization than types C and D. Recanalization was successful at a rate of 68.75% (22/32 COICAs; type A: 8/8; type B: 8/8; type C: 4/8; type D: 2/8). The perioperative complication rate was 18.75% (6/32; type A: 0/8 [0%]; type B: 1/8 [12.50%]; type C: 3/8 [37.50%], type D: 2/8 [25.00%]). None of these complications led to permanent morbidity or death. Twenty (64.52%) of 31 subjects had improvement in their symptoms at the 2–6 months’ follow-up. A statistically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure (SBP) was noted in 17/21 (80.95%) patients who had successful revascularization, which persisted on follow-up (p = 0.0001). The remaining 10 subjects in whom revascularization failed had no significant changes in SBP (p = 0.73).
The pilot study suggested that our proposed classification of COICA may be useful as an adjunctive guide to determine the technical feasibility and safety of revascularization for symptomatic COICA using endovascular techniques. Additionally, successful revascularization may lead to a significant decrease in SBP postprocedure. A Phase 2b trial in larger cohorts to assess the efficacy of endovascular revascularization using our COICA classification is warranted.