Endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) has revolutionized stroke care for large vessel occlusions (LVOs). However, over half treated remain functionally disabled or die. Patients with tandem lesions, or severe stenosis/occlusion of the cervical internal carotid artery (ICA) with intracranial LVO, may have technical EVT challenges and worse outcomes. We sought to compare treatments and outcomes for patients with anterior circulation tandem lesions versus isolated LVOs.
Consecutive tandem lesion and isolated intracranial LVO patients were identified at a single center. Demographics, medical history, presentations, treatments, and outcomes were collected and analyzed.
From 381 EVT patients, 62 had tandem lesions related to atherosclerosis (74%) or dissection (26%). Compared to isolated intracranial LVOs, they were younger (63 vs 70, p = 0.003), had less atrial fibrillation (13% vs 40%, p < 0.0001), less adequate reperfusion (TICI 2b-3, 58% vs 82%, p < 0.0001), more intracranial hemorrhage (ICH, 13% vs 5%, p = 0.037), but similar 90-day functional independence (mRS 0-2, 34% vs 43%, p = 0.181). The cervical ICA was treated before intracranial EVT (57%), after (13%), not acutely (22%), or was inaccessible (8%). Acute cervical ICA treatments were stenting (57%) or angioplasty alone (13%). Neither acute stenting nor order of treatment was associated with outcomes (TICI 2b-3, ICH, or 90-day mRS 0-2). Among acutely stented, neither alteplase nor antiplatelets were associated with outcomes or stent patency.
Tandem lesions were associated with less reperfusion, more ICH, but similar 90-day functional independence. No treatment approach was associated with outcomes. These data illustrate the technical challenges of tandem lesion treatment and underscore the importance of developing new approaches.

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