The role of cerebral revascularization remains unclear in symptomatic occlusive cerebrovascular disease refractory to medical therapy. Despite the disappointing findings of the Cooperative Study on Extracranial–Intracranial Bypass, a subpopulation of patients with ischemic cerebrovascular disease and poor hemodynamic reserve may benefit from extracranial–intracranial (EC–IC) bypass. The authors reviewed the records of 65 patients who underwent 71 EC–IC bypass procedures at their institution over the past 6 years.
All patients except one presented with repeated transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) that were referable to the involved vascular region. Eight patients underwent EC–IC bypass urgently for “crescendo” TIAs refractory to anti-platelet and anticoagulation therapy. Indications for surgery included cervical internal carotid artery (ICA) occlusion in 28, supraclinoid ICA stenosis in two, middle cerebral artery stenosis or occlusion in 14, moyamoya disease in 18, and ICA dissection in three. Cerebral angiography demonstrated poor collateral flow to the involved region in each case. There were no postoperative strokes or deaths in this series. Following EC–IC bypass, the vast majority (95.4%) of patients experienced cessation of their ischemic events and stabilization of preexisting neurological dysfunction. Of the eight patients who underwent EC–IC bypass urgently for crescendo TIAs, two awoke with increased neurological deficits that improved rapidly within 24 hours of surgery.
Although the Cooperative Study failed to show benefit from this treatment modality, the authors have continued to perform EC–IC bypass in certain cases. Carefully selected individuals with occlusive cerebrovascular disease and persistent ischemic symptoms refractory to maximal medical therapy appear to benefit from cerebral revascularization.