Stroke is a major cause of disability and death in adults. Several large randomized clinical trials have shown the significant benefit of mechanical thrombectomy with modern stent retrievers in the treatment of large-vessel occlusions. However, large clots located at bifurcations remain challenging to treat. An in vivo model of these recalcitrant clots needs to be developed to test future generations of devices.
Autologous blood was drawn from anesthetized swine via a femoral sheath. Blood was then mixed with thrombin, calcium chloride, and saline, and injected into silicone tubing to form cylindrical clots in the standard fashion. Matured clots were then delivered in an unfragmented fashion directly into the distal extracranial vasculature, at branch points where vessel sizes mimic the human middle cerebral artery, by using Penumbra aspiration tubing and the Penumbra ACE68 reperfusion catheter.
A total of 5 adult swine were used to develop the model. The techniques evolved during experiments in the first 3 animals, and the last 2 were used to establish the final model. In these 2 swine, a total of 8 autologous clots, 15–20 mm, were injected directly into 8 distal extracranial vessels at branch points to mimic a bifurcation occlusion in a human. All clots were delivered directly at a distal bifurcation or trifurcation in an unfragmented fashion to cause an occlusion. Ten revascularization attempts were made, and none of the branch-point occlusions were fully revascularized on the first attempt.
Using novel large-bore distal access catheters, large unfragmented clots can be delivered into distal extracranial vessels in a swine occlusion model. The model mimics the clinical situation of a recalcitrant bifurcation occlusion and will be valuable in the study of next-generation stroke devices and in training settings.