Medical Policy



Subject: Mechanical Embolectomy for Treatment of Acute Stroke
Document #: SURG.00098 Current Effective Date:    06/28/2017
Status: Reviewed Last Review Date:    05/04/2017

Description/Scope

This document addresses the use of intra-arterial mechanical embolectomy devices, also known as endovascular thrombectomy, for the treatment of acute thrombotic or embolic stroke.  Mechanical embolectomy is designed to reopen occluded blood vessels in the brain by extracting occlusive thrombi or emboli from the cerebral vasculature.

Position Statement

Medically Necessary:

Intra-arterial mechanical embolectomy or thrombectomy is considered medically necessary in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke when the following criteria have been met:

Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:

Intra-arterial mechanical embolectomy or thrombectomy is considered investigational and not medically necessary in the treatment of acute stroke in all other circumstances when the criteria above have not been met, including, but not limited to, embolectomy or thrombectomy of precerebral arteries.

Rationale

Mechanical removal of emboli or thrombi after an acute stroke, particularly for those who are ineligible for thrombolytic therapy, has been the focus of intense research.  Several devices have been approved or cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of individuals with stroke and are currently under investigation.

Merci® Retrieval System

The Merci Retrieval System (Concentric Medical, Inc., Mountain View, CA) was evaluated in two prospective non-randomized trials, known as the MERCI trial (Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia; [Parts 1 & 2]) and the Multi-MERCI trial [Parts 1 & 2].

The MERCI trial was a 25-center prospective, nonrandomized trial for individuals with symptoms of acute stroke for less than 8 hours who were not candidates for thrombolytic therapy, either because of contraindications (~25%) or because symptoms were present for more than 3 hours (Smith, 2005).  Study subjects were required to have a National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score of at least eight (8), exclusion of cerebral hemorrhage by CT scan, and a treatable vessel (intracranial vertebral artery, basilar artery, intracranial carotid artery [including terminal bifurcation] or middle cerebral artery [MCA], first or secondary divisions [M1 or M2]).  Most individuals had MCA distribution strokes.  Of the 151 subjects enrolled in the trial, 141 had the device deployed.  The primary outcome of recanalization, defined as achieving "Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction" (TIMI) II or III flow in treated vessels, was achieved in 46% (69/151) of those in an intent-to-treat analysis and in 48% (68/141) of those in whom the device was employed.  This was compared to a "benchmark" of a spontaneous recanalization rate of 18% observed in the control arm of the PROACT-II (Prolyse in Acute Cerebral Thromboembolism-II study), a randomized controlled trial of pro-urokinase for acute ischemic stroke.

The Multi MERCI trial, was designed in part to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Merci Retrieval System in conjunction with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA) as well as the safety of the next generation design of the device, the L-5 Retriever (Smith, 2006).  A total of 131 participants were initially treated with the L-5 Retriever.  Primary outcome was recanalization of the target vessel.  Results showed successful recanalization in 75 of 131 (57%) treatable vessels and 91 of 131 (70%) after adjunctive tPA therapy.  Secondary outcomes of the Multi MERCI study included modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and NIHSS scores.  At 90 days, 37% of the participants achieved a mRS score of less than or equal to 2 (considered a good outcome).  This compares favorably to data from the PROACT-II study which reported an mRS ≤ 2 in 25% of the control arm and 40% of the treatment group.  Clinically significant procedural complications occurred in 10 individuals (7.1%) and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhages were observed in 11 (7.8%), a rate of bleeding similar to that seen with thrombolytic therapy alone in other trials.  Treatment with the Retriever alone resulted in successful recanalization in 60 of 111 (54%) treatable vessels and in 77 of 111 (69%) after adjunctive therapy.  Overall mortality at 90 days was 44% compared to 27% in the control arm of PROACT-II.  The investigators observed that good neurological outcomes were more frequent at 90 days in those with successful recanalization compared to those with unsuccessful recanalization (46% vs. 10%, p<0.0001) and mortality was less as well (32% vs. 54%, respectively, p=0.01).  This suggests that restoration of blood flow improves outcomes.  The investigators also compared their findings to those from the initial MERCI trial.  In the discussion section of the Smith article, the authors point out that in the Multi MERCI trial there was a higher recanalization rate in the retriever alone group (54% vs. 48%), higher final recanalization rate (69% vs. 60%), better 90-day clinical outcome (34% vs. 28% mRS ≤ 2), fewer clinically significant procedural complications (4.5% vs. 7.1%), and lower 90-day mortality (31% vs. 44%).  The authors proposed that higher rates of recanalization, when compared to the MERCI trial, were associated with the newer generation thrombectomy device compared with first-generation devices, but these differences did not achieve statistical significance. The authors conclude their report by stating, "…definitive conclusions of clinical efficacy in treating ischemic stroke will require a control group comparison."  Indeed, to determine if this treatment improves net outcomes (considering both benefits and risk) in stroke, there must be a comparison with an appropriate control group.  It is not clear what the recanalization rate would have been without embolectomy in those who had successful clot removal.  Concurrent control groups are also important to evaluate possible unexpected events when intravascular devices are used that may damage arterial endothelium.

Flint and colleagues (2007) published pooled results of the MERCI and Multi MERCI Part 1 trials for the subgroup of participants with occlusions of the intracranial carotid artery (47 enrolled in MERCI and 33 in Multi MERCI).  Recanalization was achieved in 53% with the Merci Retriever alone and 63% when used with adjunctive intra-arterial (IA) thrombolytics.  At 90 days, 25% of participants had a good neurologic outcome (mRS 0-2), and overall mortality was 46%.  The authors noted that the trials had not included a non-treatment arm; therefore, the data could not directly demonstrate the superiority of mechanical thrombectomy for acute intracranial carotid artery occlusions.  They also concluded a comparison of mechanical thrombectomy to intravenous thrombolysis within a 3-hour time window was warranted.

FDA clearance through the 510(k) process requires a predicate device and does not require data from randomized trials.  In the MERCI clinical trials, results were compared to historical controls based on the PROACT II study of thrombolysis and concerns have been raised about the lack of a control group.  Additionally, the MERCI trials included individuals with different types of occlusions; PROACT II had MCA M1 and M2 occlusions while the MERCI trial also included internal carotid and vertebral basilar systems.  In regards to the higher mortality and lack of superior clinical outcomes in the MERCI trial compared to PROACT-II, the MERCI investigators pointed out that their study subjects were older and the variety of affected vessels were associated with more severe strokes carrying worse prognoses.  However, the 45% recanalization rate of middle cerebral arteries alone in the MERCI trial compares unfavorably with the 66% rate seen with intra-arterial pro-urokinase in PROACT-II and a recanalization rate of 56% observed in those treated with combined intravenous and intra-arterial (IA) tPA in the Interventional Management of Stroke (IMS) study (IMS Study Investigators, 2004).

Shi and colleagues performed a retrospective pooled data analysis of 178 participants with MCA occlusion that were treated in the MERCI and Multi MERCI trials (2010).  They noted that benefit from endovascular revascularization of those with acute ischemic stroke with MCA secondary division (M2) occlusions as compared with MCA trunk (M1) occlusions is unknown.  Two groups, one with M1 lesions (n=150, 84.3%) and the other group with isolated M2 lesions (n=28, 15.7%) were evaluated for baseline characteristics, revascularization rates, hemorrhage rates, complications, outcomes, and mortality.  Among the 150 subjects with MCA M1 occlusion, 73 were enrolled in MERCI and 77 were enrolled in Multi MERCI.  Among the 28 participants with MCA M2 occlusion, 7 were enrolled in MERCI and 21 were enrolled in Multi MERCI.  Revascularization rates (TIMI II/III flow) immediately after Merci treatment alone were 46.0% and 71.4% in the MCA M1 group and M2 group, respectively.  There were no statistically significant findings for hemorrhage, complications or mortality.  Although the data from this study supports the correlation between successful revascularization and the achievement of good clinical outcomes at 90 days post thrombectomy, the authors acknowledged that it was not clear if the trend toward better clinical outcomes in those with isolated M2 occlusions is associated with a higher revascularization rate or with a smaller ischemic area at risk.  The greater benefit in the M2 group for revascularization could be due to the fact that a greater number of participants in this group were from the Multi MERCI trial, and better operator and device performance could be a contributing variant. 

In a pooled analysis of the MERCI and Multi MERCI studies, Fields and others (2011) evaluated the effect of recanalization on functional outcomes.  The TIMI score was used to define the degree of recanalization, and a favorable outcome was defined as an mRS score of 0-2 at 90 days.  A total of 305 subjects were included in the analysis.  The authors report that the unadjusted odds ratio (OR) for a favorable outcome increased significantly as the TIMI score increased from 0 to 1 (OR, 5.9; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-20.0; p=0.007) and from 2 to 3 (OR. 2.3; 95% CI, 1.2-4.5; p=0.01).  The likelihood of death decreased significantly as the TIMI score increased from 2 to 3 (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.1-4.3; p=0.05).  In a multivariate analysis, each increase in TIMI grade increased the odds of a good outcome 2.6-fold (95% CI, 1.9-3.4, p<0.0001).  The authors concluded by stating:

These results provide support for the hypothesis that patient outcomes in the context of stroke interventions may be improved by additional attempts to increase the TIMI grade during stroke interventions.  Because patients with different TIMI grades may differ from each other at baseline, this hypothesis would require validation in a randomized trial.

Penumbra System®

In September 2007, the FDA granted 510(k) clearance to the Penumbra System (Penumbra, Inc., Alameda, CA) which is a mechanical device designed to reduce clot burden in acute stroke due to large-vessel occlusive (LVO) disease, similar to the Merci Retrieval System.  The FDA clearance was based in part on the Penumbra Pivotal Stroke Trial study, a prospective, multicenter, single-arm study, involving 125 participants with neurological deficits as defined by an NIHSS score of ≥ 8, who presented within 8 hours of symptom onset, and had an angiographic occlusion (Penumbra Pivotal Stroke Trial Investigators, 2009).  The results of the study showed neurological recovery and functional outcomes improvement, with 31 of 125 (25%) of the participants having either an NIHSS score of 0 to 1 or ≥ 0-point improvement at discharge.  Additionally, 25% of subjects had an mRS score of ≤ 2 at 90 days.  The 90-day mRS score was comparable to the subjects in the MERCI Part 2 trial of 27.7% (Smith, 2005), but lower than the treatment group in the PROACT II study of 40% (Furlan, 1999).  Given a revascularization rate of 81.6%, the lower mRS score was unexpected and remains unclear.  The authors stated that the trial was designed primarily to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Penumbra thrombectomy device to reduce clot burden, not functional outcome.  They acknowledged that the question of whether mechanical revascularization leads to improved neurological recovery and a better functional outcome when compared to medical management alone will require future prospective, concurrently controlled trials in well-selected subjects presenting with acute ischemic stroke. 

As a follow-up study, Tarr and others conducted a retrospective case series study of 157 subjects who underwent treatment with the Penumbra system (the POST Trial, 2010).  Subject data was followed out to 90 days post-procedure.  The primary endpoints used were revascularization of the target vessel (TIMI score 2 or 3), good functional outcome as defined by an mRS score of ≤ 2, and incidence of serious adverse events related to the use of the Penumbra system.  The data from the POST trial were compared to those from the Pivotal trial.  The report stated that the incidence of intracranial hemorrhage at 24 hours was not significantly different from the Pivotal study data (6.4% vs. 11%), but the rate of all-cause death was, at 20% and 33% respectively (p<0.05).  Additionally, there was a significantly higher proportion of subjects who were functionally independent after treatment (POST trial, 41% vs. Pivotal, 25%).  In the POST study, the authors stated that subjects that had successful revascularization had better outcomes, with significantly lower mortality and a higher rate of good functional outcomes (p≤0.01).  The timing of Penumbra treatment in relation to the use of adjunctive treatment was also variable.  Thirty-five percent of subjects received IA tPA treatment during treatment with the Penumbra system, 18.5% receiving tPA prior to Penumbra treatment (as a salvage treatment), and 23% received it both before and during Penumbra treatment.  The impact of IA tPA treatment was reported as not being significant on revascularization or mortality rates.  The adverse event rate was 5.7%, with 2 subjects experiencing dissection, and a single subject each experiencing perforation, intracranial hemorrhage, peripheral hemorrhage, access site hematoma, and cardiac arrest.  Three device failures were reported as well, related to fracture or breakage of the device.  None of these failures resulted in death.  The results of the POST trial are in line with those from the Pivotal trial with regard to the rate of successful recanalization, indicating that the results of the Pivotal study can be replicated.  This uncontrolled trial included several approaches to the use of the Penumbra system, with subjects receiving care with the system alone, and in conjunction with IV tPA, IA tPA, and with both IV and IA tPA together.  Furthermore, TIMI scores were not adjudicated by a core lab but were assessed at each individual study center.  However, the authors argued that this condition reflects real-world use of the Penumbra device.

Solitaire™ FR Revascularization Device

The Solitaire FR device (Covidien, Mansfield, MA) received FDA 510(k) clearance in March 2012.  The FDA determined that this device was substantially equivalent to the Merci Retriever device, based on data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) submitted to the FDA comparing the Merci and Solitaire devices (the SWIFT trial) (Saver, 2012).  The SWIFT trial was a multicenter, randomized, non-inferiority study involving 113 subjects with acute stroke in the proximal carotid arteries.  A total of 58 individuals were assigned to receive treatment with the Solitaire device and 55 to receive treatment with the Merci device.  The primary efficacy endpoint was successful recanalization without symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage.  Secondary efficacy outcomes included time to achieve recanalization, good neurological outcomes at 90 days (as defined as mRS ≤ 2 or NIHSS score improvement ≥ 10), and neurological condition at 90 days.  The primary safety endpoint was incidence of device and procedure-related serious adverse events.  The reported results demonstrated that the Solitaire group had more frequent successful recanalization (61% vs. 24%, p=0.0001), better time to successful recanalization (36 min vs. 52 min, p=0.038), and more frequent 90-day good neurological outcomes (58% vs. 33%, p=0.017).  Additionally, the Solitaire group had a lower incidence of intracranial hemorrhage (both symptomatic and asymptomatic) compared to the Merci group (17% vs. 38%, p=0.02), as well as fewer all-cause deaths at 90 days (17% vs. 38%, p=0.02).  No differences between groups were noted with regard to device or procedure-related adverse events.  The study was halted early, after the data safety monitoring board and trial steering committee agreed that pre-specified criteria for stopping the trial had been met.  The results from this trial were presented at the 2012 International Stroke Conference.  The conference presentation acknowledged that "… further study is necessary to prove whether treatment with Solitaire is better than supportive medical care and two such studies addressing that issue are under way in the US."

Pereira and colleagues (2013) report on a prospective case series study involving 202 subjects between 10 and 85 years of age with occlusion of the anterior intracranial artery presenting within 8 hours after onset and who were refractory to IV thrombolysis.  All participants were treated with the Solitaire device and a total of 59% of the subjects received intravenously administered tPA before the treatment with mechanical embolectomy.  In the intent-to-treat analysis, the rate of the primary outcome of successful revascularization as measured by thrombolysis in cerebral infarction (TICI) ≥ 2b after ≤ 3 passes of the study device was reported as 79.2% (160/202).  In 42 subjects (20.8%), TICI ≥ 2b was not achieved within the limited number of 3 passes and were considered device treatment failures.  In 18 subjects (9%) rescue therapy was performed, which consisted of intra-arterial thrombolysis in 2 subjects, mechanical embolectomy in 13 subjects, and in 3 subjects, combined intra-arterial thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy (MT).  After rescue therapy, it was determined that 88.1% of subjects (171/194) achieved final successful revascularization.  At the 90-day follow-up visit, favorable neurological outcome (mRS, 0-2) was seen in 57.9% of subjects.  The frequency of total device- and procedure-related serious adverse events was 7.4%.  Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) was found in 18.8% of subjects at 24 hours and symptomatic ICH (sICH) occurred in 1.5% of the subjects.  The mortality rate was 6.9% with a higher proportion found in the male population (5%).  An analysis was done between the collateral circulation and outcome, and the authors observed that a good collateral circulation, as defined as grades 3-4 American Society of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology/Society of Interventional Radiology scale, correlated significantly with good (mRS, 0-2) outcomes (p=0.034).  Subjects receiving rescue therapy showed a statistically significant lower rate of favorable outcome (33.3%; mRS, 0-2) compared with those who did not (60.3%; p=0.043).  The rate of device- and procedure-related serious adverse events ( SAEs) was not significantly elevated in the subgroup of subjects receiving rescue therapy (11.1% vs. 7.2%).

Campbell and others (2014, 2015) reported on the results of the Extending the Time for Thrombolysis in Emergency Neurological Deficits - Intra-Arterial (EXTEND-IA) trial, which was a prospective open-label, blinded endpoint RCT involving 70 subjects with radiologically-confirmed intracranial occlusion.  Subjects were assigned on a 1:1 basis to treatment with IV tPA alone (n=35) or IV tPA plus mechanical embolectomy with the Solitaire FR device (n=35).  All subjects were treated within 6 hours of stroke onset and followed for 90 days post-intervention.  While all those involved with the initial treatment were aware of the group assignment, those involved with subsequent clinical and imaging assessments were blind to group assignment.  The authors reported that the experimental group showed significantly better outcomes compared to controls with regard to the primary endpoints of probability of reperfusion without symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage at 24 hours (89% vs. 34%; p<0.001).  Similarly, the co-primary endpoint of early neurologic improvement as measured by greater than or equal to 8 point reduction on the NIHSS was also significantly in favor of the experimental group (28% vs. 13%; p<0.001).  The secondary endpoint of 90-day mRS was also favorable to the experimental group, with median scores of 1 for the experimental group vs. 3 for the controls (p=0.006).  No differences between groups were noted for the incidence of deaths (p=0.18), symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (p=0.49), or parenchymal hematoma (p=0.99).  Finally, significant and favorable outcomes were reported for tertiary endpoints of reperfusion greater than 90% at 24 hours without symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (p<0.001) and median home time within the first 90 days (p=0.006).

Two other similarly designed studies were published in 2015.  Jovin and colleagues published the results of the Randomized Trial of Revascularization with Solitaire FR Device versus Best Medical Therapy in the Treatment of Acute Stroke Due to Anterior Circulation large Vessel Occlusion Presenting within Eight Hours of Symptom Onset (REVASCAT) study, which involved 206 subjects with radiologically-confirmed intracranial occlusion.  Subjects were assigned on a 1:1 basis to treatment with IV tPA alone (n=103) or IV tPA plus mechanical embolectomy with the Solitaire FR device (n=103).  Unlike the EXTEND-IA study, subjects were treated within 8 hours of symptom onset.  Recruitment was stopped early due to loss of equipoise at the first interim analysis.  In addition, the publication of the Goyal, Campbell, and Berkhemer studies had raised ethical concerns of study continuation.  Thrombectomy was performed in 98 of the 103 (95.1%) subjects in the experimental group. Additionally, one subject underwent angioplasty after failed thrombectomy and another received interarterial tPA.  With regard to the primary outcome, analysis showed significant improvement in the distribution of the mRS score (common OR=1.7) favoring thrombectomy.  The absolute between-group difference in the proportion of subjects who were functionally independent (mRS score, 0-2) was 15.5 percentage points, favoring thrombectomy (43.7% vs. 28.2%; adjusted OR=2.1).  Secondary outcomes also favored the thrombectomy group, with successful revascularization was achieved in 66% of subjects in the thrombectomy group according to core laboratory assessments and in 80% of the subjects according to the assessments of local interventionalists.  No significant differences were reported for the rate of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (1.9% in both groups; p=1.00) and rates of death (18.4% in experimental group vs. 15.5% in the control group; p=0.60).

Dávalos and colleagues (2017) published the 1-year results of the REVASCAT study.  Data was available for 205 of the original 206 subjects involved in the study (99.5%).  The authors reported that at 12-months post-treatment the adjusted OR for improvement in mRS score was 1.8 in favor of the experimental group.  The proportion of subjects with mRS score 0 to 2 was significantly better in the experimental group vs. controls (44% vs. 30%, adjusted OR 1.86).  They also noted that improvements in mRS scores continued for the first 3 months and were sustained through 12 months in both groups.  No differences between groups were noted with regard to overall mortality.

The other study, named Thrombectomy as Primary Endovascular Treatment (SWIFT PRIME), was reported by Saver and colleagues (2015).  As with the above trials, subjects (n=196) were assigned on a 1:1 basis to treatment with IV tPA alone (n=98) or IV tPA plus mechanical embolectomy with the Solitaire FR device (n=98).  All subjects were treated within 6 hours of symptom onset.  In the experimental group, 87 (88.8%) subjects underwent treatment with the embolectomy device.  As with the previously reported studies, use of thrombectomy plus intravenous tPA significantly reduced disability at 90 days vs. tPA alone, as measured by mRS score (p<0.001).  Additionally, the rate of functional independence (mRS score, 0 to 2) was higher in the experimental group than in the control group (60% vs. 35%, p<0.001).  Successful reperfusion (≥ 90%) at 27 hours, assessed by means of perfusion CT or MRI, was more frequent in the intervention group than in the control group (83% vs. 40%, p<0.001).  No significant differences between groups were reported with regard to 90 day mortality (9% vs. 12%, p=0.50) or symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (0% vs. 3%, p=0.12).

Albers and others (2015) published a follow-up report of the SWIFT PRIME trial that evaluated the relationship between the imaging findings and clinical outcomes in this trial population.  The authors reported that there was a "potent relationship" between 27-hour infarct volumes and clinical outcomes (Spearman correlation coefficient [ρ]=0/57, p<0.001).  They also stated that subjects who had successful reperfusion had significantly better clinical outcomes, with no statistical differences between treatment groups found.  In the group of subjects for whom perfusion mismatch data were available, the 27-hour infarct volume was significantly better in the intervention group vs. controls (24 mL vs. 36 mL, p=0.025).  The size of the initial mismatch volume was also found to be important, with the rate of functional independence reported to be not statistically significant between treatment groups in subjects with small initial mismatch volumes (p=1.0).  Conversely, for subjects with larger mismatch volumes, the intervention group subjects were reported to have significantly better functional independence scores (62.7% vs. 34.4%, p=0.002).

A number of small case series studies reporting on the Solitaire device are available (Cohen, 2012; Hann, 2013; Machi, 2012; Miteff, 2011; Mpotsaris, 2012; Roth, 2010).  However, the evidence from these small studies is weak and cannot be used to properly evaluate the safety and efficacy of this device.  Koh and others conducted a systematic review of these available studies addressing the Solitaire device (2012).  Their initial search identified 634 articles, but this number was condensed to 13 when limited to human clinical studies.  The number of subjects in these studies ranged from 7 to 56, with a mean of 20.  Two of these studies were retrospective comparative studies, two were prospective case series, and the remainder were retrospective case series studies.  A total of 262 subjects were included in these publications.  Quantitative pooled data analysis was not possible due to significant heterogeneity of study design, inclusion criteria, and subject populations.  The authors reported that the mean age of subjects varied from 58.9 to 76.4 years of age.  Mean initial NIHSS ranged from 14 to 21.4.  Occluded segment included 149 MCAs (56.9%), 59 T-carotids (22.5%), and 54 vertebrobasilar arteries (20.6%).  Forty-one cases of 192 MCA or T-carotid occlusions (21.60%) from 11 studies had tandem stenosis of the proximal carotid artery.  Eleven studies identified the indications for recanalization therapy.  However, the criteria were different for each study. 

Trevo® Retriever

The Trevo Retriever device (Concentric Medical, Mountain View, CA) received FDA 510(k) clearance in August 2012 with the indication to treat individuals with acute ischemic stroke due to large intracranial vessel occlusion who are ineligible for or fail intravenous tissue plasminogen activator.  The FDA determined that this device was substantially equivalent to the Merci Retriever device, based on data from the TREVO2 study, an RCT of 178 subjects from 27 centers in the U.S. and Europe that compared the Trevo device with the Merci device (Nogueira, 2012).  This prospective, open label, non-inferiority study involved 88 subjects randomized to receive treatment with the Trevo device and 90 to be treated with the Merci device.  The primary efficacy endpoint was revascularization success defined as TICI ≥ 2, and the primary safety endpoint was a composite of procedure-related adverse events.  The authors reported that overall, the Trevo group had significantly fewer vessel perforations when compared to the Merci group (1 vs. 10, p=0.0182), had higher rates of successful reperfusion (92% vs. 77%, p<0.0068), and had higher rates of 90-day "good" outcomes as measured by mRS 0-2 (40% vs. 22, p=0.0130).  No significant differences were reported with regard to any other measures, including symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, rates of neurological deterioration, and 30- and 90-day mortality.

There is currently one case series study addressing the use of the Trevo Retriever in subjects with acute stroke (San Román, 2012).  This prospective, single-center study included 60 subjects with stroke.  Of the subjects, 54 had anterior circulation occlusion and 6 had occlusion of the vertebrobasilar circulation.  Successful revascularization was obtained in 44 (73.3%) of cases when only the Trevo device was used and in 52 (86.7%) when other devices or additional IA tPA was also required.  Good 90 day outcomes were achieved in 27 (45%) subjects, and the mortality rate was 28.3%.  Seven subjects (11.7%) presented a symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage.  No other major complications were detected.  The authors concluded that the Trevo device was reasonably safe and effective in subjects with severe stroke, and that their results support further investigation through multicentric registries and randomized clinical trials.

Non-Device-Specific or Mixed-Device Studies

In 2014, Berkhemer and others published the results of the Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial of Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke in the Netherlands (MR CLEAN).  This RCT involved 500 subjects with imaging-confirmed intracranial major vessel occlusion who were eligible for treatment within 6 hours of stroke onset.  Subjects were assigned to receive treatment with either usual care or usual care plus intra-arterial treatment, which may have included intra-arterial thrombolysis, mechanical embolectomy, or both.  The selection of embolectomy device was left to the discretion of the treating investigator, and any FDA approved or CE marked device was eligible for use.  Primary outcome of interest was 90-day mRS score, with secondary outcomes including scores on the NIHSS, Barthel index, EuroQol self-report questionnaire, and the Alberta Stroke Program Early Computed Tomography Score (ASPECTS).  While the subjects and investigators were not blind to group assignment, radiological assessments were conducted by blinded assessors.  In total, 233 subjects were assigned to the experimental group and 267 to the control group.  No intra-arterial therapy was undertaken in 37 of the experimental group subjects, mechanical treatment was done in 195 subjects (of which 24 received additional intra-arterial thrombolysis), and 1 subject received intra-arterial thrombolysis only.  Of the 195 subjects receiving mechanical therapy, 190 involved the use of retrievable stents (for example, the Penumbra System, Solitaire FR, and Trevo thrombectomy) and the other 5 involved other types of devices (for example, the MERCI retriever).  The authors reported that the age-adjusted OR for having a favorable 90-day mRS was 1.67, in favor of the experimental group, regardless of the mRS category except death.  The absolute between-group differences in the proportion of subjects who were functionally independent as measured by the mRS scores was 13.5% in favor of the experimental group, with an adjusted OR of 2.16.  The NIHSS after 5-7 days was, on average, 2.9 points lower in the experimental group.  Recanalization data was available for 394 of 500 subjects, and it was reported that absence of residual occlusion was more common in the intervention group (75.4% vs. 32.9%).  No differences between groups were reported in relation to serious adverse events in the 90-day follow-up period.  However, 13 of 233 (5.6%) intervention group subjects had clinical signs of new ischemic stroke in non-downstream vascular tree vs. only 1 control subject.  Mortality was no different between groups at any time point measured.  The results of this study are promising, and demonstrate significant benefit to the use of intra-arterial mechanical interventions. 

In 2017 van den Berg and others published the 2-year outcome data from the MR CLEAN study.  A total of 391 (78.2%) of the original 500 subjects had data available for the analysis of functional outcomes.  The adjusted common OR mRS was 1.68, in favor of the experimental group vs. controls (p=0.007).  The authors reported that Subjects in the experimental group were more likely to have a good outcome vs. controls (mRS of 0 to 2, 37.1% vs, 23.9%, respectively, p=0.003).  However, among subjects with an excellent outcome (mRS of 0 or 1) no differences between groups were reported (7.2% vs. 6.1%, p=0.64).  Additionally, no differences between groups were reported with regard to 2-year cumulative death rate (p=0.46) or the rate of major vascular events (p=0.50).  In the sensitivity analysis it was noted that the 103 subjects missing from this 2-year data report had high rates of atrial fibrillation at baseline 35.9 vs. 26.4%, p=0.02), were more likely to be randomized to the control group (62.1% vs. 48.9%, p=0.05), had longer medial time form onset of symptoms to randomization (218 minutes vs. 195 minutes, p=0.003), and were more likely to have poor functional outcomes (mRS or 4 to 5, 57.3% vs. 30.0%, p=0.005).

The Endovascular Treatment for Small Core and Anterior Circulation Proximal Occlusion with Emphasis on Minimizing CT to Recanalization Times (ESCAPE) trial was a prospective open-label, blinded endpoint RCT involving 316 subjects with radiologically-confirmed intracranial occlusion randomized to undergo treatment with either standard treatment with IV tPA or standard of care plus mechanical embolectomy (Goyal, 2015).  Due to the positive outcomes reported in the MR CLEAN trial, the data safety and monitoring board recommended early suspension and interim analysis of the study with only 243 completing the 90-day endpoint.  Following analysis, the board concluded that recruitment should be ended and the existing subjects followed to endpoint completion.  The final study data included 165 subjects randomized to the experimental group and 150 to the control group.  In the experimental group, 14 subjects did not receive the intervention, and 4 were lost to follow-up, leaving 156 subjects completing the trial.  The primary outcome of 90-day mRS was assessed by clinicians blinded to group assignment.  The common OR of 2.6 was reported, favoring the experimental group (p<0.001).  The median mRS at 90 days was 2 in the experimental group and 4 in the control group (p<0.0010).  Mortality at 90 days was 10.4% for the experimental group vs. 19.0% in controls (p=0.04).  No differences between groups were reported for the incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage (p=0.75).  For secondary outcomes, the rate of subjects with a 95 to 100 on the Barthel index at 90 days was 57.7% in the experimental group and 33.6% in the control group (adjusted OR=1.7).  The rate of 90-day NIHSS of 0 to 2 was 5.6% in the experimental group vs. 23.1% in the control group (adjusted OR=6.5).  The authors reported that retrievable stents were used in 130 of the 151 (86.1%) subjects in whom mechanical embolectomy was completed.  The Solitaire FR was identified as the device used in 100 (77.0%) of these cases.  The identity of the remaining 21 devices was not reported.  Finally, in the experimental group 120 of 151 subjects (72.7%) received IV tPA treatment.

Together these studies show the increasing promise of mechanical embolectomy for the treatment of stroke within 6 hours of onset.

Comparative Studies

In 2017, Hentschel published the results of a study comparing the outcomes between stent and non-stent retriever devices in 166 subjects.  The stent retrievers included in this study were the Merci (n=30) and Pneumbra devices (n=69), and the non-stent retrievers were the Trevo (n=5) and Solitaire devices (n=62).  The non-stent devices were used between 2008 through 2014, and the stent devices were used from 2011 through 2014.  The baseline data indicates that the stent cohort had a greater proportion of African Americans (p=0.04) and smokers (p=0.01).  Good clinical outcomes (mRS=0 to 2) were reported to be significantly greater in the stent retriever group vs. the no stent device group (61.67% vs. 22.54%, p<0.001).  Similar results were noted with regard to 90-day NIHSS score (4.71 vs 2.49, p=0.008) and hospital length of stay (8.3 vs. 12.36, p=0.02).  Recanalization was achieved in 97.01% of the stent device-treated subjects vs. 79.8% of the non-stent subjects (p<0.001).  The mean number of passes require to achieve success was lower in the stent group (2.23 vs. 2.68, p<0.001).  The percent of brain salvaged was significantly larger in the stent group (62.3% vs. 28.3%, p=0.002).  The stent device group has a significantly lower rate of post-treatment hemorrhage (13.43% vs. 40.40%, p=0.002), and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage occurred in 1 stent group subject vs. 7 non-stent group subjects (p=0.15).  No significant differences between groups was noted with regard to incidence of deep vein thrombosis, decompressive hemicraniectomy or hydrocephalus.  These results indicate that the use of stent-type retrievers provide significantly better outcomes in comparison to non-stent devices.  However, there are several significant limitations to this study that should be noted.  The authors do not describe the device selection process and selection bias may play a role in these results.  Additionally, they state in the article that multiple devices were used in several subjects, but they provide no additional information on which devices were used or how many subjects required use of a subsequent device.  It is not clear if the subsequent devices were of a similar type and how many subjects were affected.  

Meta-analyses, Systematic Reviews, and Other Information

A small number of nonrandomized comparative studies of different types of endovascular interventions have been published.  Broussalis and colleagues described a study comparing the Merci device with newer retrievable stents (Trevo and Solitaire devices) in 122 subjects treated with endovascular interventions (2012).  Forty-nine percent of subjects (60/122) underwent treatment with the Merci device, and 51% (62/122) were treated with either the Trevo or Solitaire devices.  No data is provided regarding how many subjects received each device in the Trevo-Solitaire group, but the authors noted that there were no statistically significant differences between them.  Successful recanalization (as indicated by Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction [TICI] scores 3 and 2b) was achieved in 82% of subjects treated in the Trevo-Solitaire group vs. 62% of Merci Retriever-treated group (p=0.016).  In the 90-day follow-up, 65% of the Trevo-Solitaire group and 35% of the Merci group achieved a good (mRS ≤ 0-2) clinical outcome (p=0.002).  Subjects in the Trevo-Solitaire group had significantly less severe intracerebral hemorrhages (10% vs. 28%, p<0.01).  A much smaller study by Fesl and colleagues compared 14 subjects treated with the Solitaire device with 16 subjects treated with older devices (Penumbra separation and aspiration device [n=15], Gooseneck Snare [n= 6], Penumbra Thrombus removal ring [n=1], and permanent Wingspan stent [n=2]).  Successful recanalization (as indicated by TICI scores > 2b) was achieved in 93% of Solitaire subjects vs. 56% of subjects in the comparison group (p<0.05).  Favorable outcome, as measured by mRS ≤ 2, was reported as 45% in the Solitaire group and 33% in the comparator group.  These studies offer some information on the comparative efficacy of different devices, but do not offer relevant evidence on the comparison of endovascular interventions versus standard stroke care.

Rai and others described a study comparing subjects who underwent treatment with either IV tPA alone (n=100) or treatment with one of three endovascular procedures (IA tPA, mechanical embolectomy with either the Merci or Penumbra devices or a combination of both, n=120) (2012).  Overall, the authors reported that there were 45 (20.2%) subjects with an internal carotid artery terminus (ICA-T) occlusion, 107 (48%) with an M1 occlusion, and 71 (31.8%) with an M2 occlusion.  Good outcomes were reported in 81 (36.3%) subjects.  Mortality was noted in 81 (36.3%) subjects and 27 (12.1%) subjects had significant hemorrhage.  Some over-arching observations were that subjects with a favorable outcome had a lower mean age and baseline NIHSS score.  Significantly more subjects with a poor outcome had an ICA-T or M1 occlusion, while significantly more subjects with a favorable outcome had an M2 occlusion.  In their comparison analysis, good outcomes were seen in 55 subjects (44.7%) in the endovascular group vs. 26 subjects (26%) who received IV tPA (p=0.003).  Death rate was not significantly different between groups, nor was the rate of significant hemorrhage.  A higher percentage of subjects in the endovascular group had an M1 occlusion while a significantly higher percentage of subjects in the IV group had an M2 occlusion.  The authors claimed that these findings demonstrated that for all occlusion sites, subjects undergoing endovascular treatment had significantly higher odds of a favorable outcome than those with IV thrombolysis and the difference was most prominent for ICA-T and M1 occlusions.  For M1 occlusions, subjects receiving IV thrombolysis had significantly higher odds of mortality than the endovascular group.  A multivariable logistic regression analysis indicated that endovascular therapy, younger age and M2 occlusions were the most significant independent predictors of a good outcome, while a higher NIHSS score and LVO (ICA-T or M1) were the most significant independent predictors of mortality.

A systematic review was published in 2012 that evaluated clinical outcomes from endovascular therapy compared to thrombolysis (Mokin, 2012).  The authors limited their analysis to publications that used either thrombolysis or endovascular therapy to treat subjects with acute internal carotid artery (ICA) occlusion.  Twenty-eight studies with a total of 385 subjects treated with thrombolysis and 584 subjects treated with endovascular therapy were included in the analysis.  No differences in mortality rates were noted between groups (27.3% vs. 32.0%, p=0.12).  The endovascular group was found to have a higher rate of favorable clinical outcomes (as defined by mRS < 2 or Barthel index of 90-100) compared to the thrombolysis group (33.6% vs. 24.9%, p=0.004).  The endovascular group had a higher rate of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage as compared to thrombolysis (11.1% vs. 4.9%, p=0.0011).

Another systematic review of observational studies involving mechanical embolectomy devices (including the Merci, Penumbra, Solitaire or Trevo devices) was published by Almekhlafi and colleagues (2012).  The authors identified 16 eligible studies and classified them according to the type of device used.  There were 4 studies (n=357) that used the Merci device, 8 studies (n=455) that used the Penumbra system, and 4 studies (n=113) that used a retrievable stent (either the Solitaire or Trevo device).  Mean procedural time was 120 minutes for the Merci device, compared to 65 and 55 minutes for the Penumbra and retrievable stents.  The successful recanalization rate was 59.1% (211/357) for the Merci group, 86.6% (394/455) for the Penumbra system, and 92.9% (105/113) for the retrievable stent group.  Functional independence as indicate by mRS ≤ 2 was achieved in 31.5% of the Merci group, 36.6% in the Penumbra group studies, and 46.9% in the retrievable stent group.

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) Focused Update of the 2013 Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke (Powers, 2015) recommends that:

2.  Patients should receive endovascular therapy with a stent retriever if they meet all the following criteria (Class I; Level of Evidence A). (New recommendation):
a.  Prestroke mRS score 0 to 1,
b.  Acute ischemic stroke receiving intravenous r-tPA within 4.5 hours of onset according to guidelines professional medical societies,
c.  Causative occlusion of the ICA or proximal MCA (M1),
d.  Age ≥18 years,
e.  NIHSS score of ≥6,
f.  ASPECTS of ≥6, and
g.  Treatment can be initiated (groin puncture) within 6 hours of symptom onset
3.  As with intravenous r-tPA, reduced time from symptom onset to reperfusion with endovascular therapies is highly associated with better clinical outcomes. To ensure benefit, reperfusion to TICI grade 2b/3 should be achieved as early as possible and within 6 hours of stroke onset (Class I; Level of Evidence B-R). (Revised from the 2013 guideline)
4.  When treatment is initiated beyond 6 hours from symptom onset, the effectiveness of endovascular therapy is uncertain for patients with acute ischemic stroke who have causative occlusion of the ICA or proximal MCA (M1) (Class IIb; Level of Evidence C). Additional randomized trial data are needed. (New recommendation)
5.  In carefully selected patients with anterior circulation occlusion who have contraindications to intravenous r-tPA, endovascular therapy with stent retrievers completed within 6 hours of stroke onset is reasonable (Class IIa; Level of Evidence C). Inadequate data are available at this time to determine the clinical efficacy of endovascular therapy with stent retrievers for those patients whose contraindications are time based or not time based (eg, prior stroke, serious head trauma, hemorrhagic coagulopathy, or receiving anticoagulant medications). (New recommendation)
6.  Although the benefits are uncertain, the use of endovascular therapy with stent retrievers may be reasonable for carefully selected patients with acute ischemic stroke in whom treatment can be initiated (groin puncture) within 6 hours of symptom onset and who have causative occlusion of the M2 or M3 portion of the MCAs, anterior cerebral arteries, vertebral arteries, basilar artery, or posterior cerebral arteries (Class IIb; Level of Evidence C). (New recommendation)
7.  Endovascular therapy with stent retrievers may be reasonable for some patients <18 years of age with acute ischemic stroke who have demonstrated large-vessel occlusion in whom treatment can be initiated (groin puncture) within 6 hours of symptom onset, but the benefits are not established in this age group (Class IIb; Level of Evidence C). (New recommendation)
8.  Although its benefits are uncertain, the use of endovascular therapy with stent retrievers may be reasonable for patients with acute ischemic stroke in whom treatment can be initiated (groin puncture) within 6 hours of symptom onset and who have prestroke mRS score >1, ASPECTS <6, or NIHSS score <6 and causative occlusion of the ICA or proximal MCA (M1) (Class IIb; Level of Evidence B-R). Additional randomized trial data are needed. (New recommendation)
9.  Observing patients after intravenous r-tPA to assess for clinical response before pursuing endovascular therapy is not required to achieve beneficial outcomes and is not recommended. (Class III; Level of Evidence B-R). (New recommendation)
10.  Use of stent retrievers is indicated in preference to the MERCI device. (Class I; Level of Evidence A). The use of mechanical thrombectomy devices other than stent retrievers may be reasonable in some circumstances (Class IIb, Level B-NR). (New recommendation)

It must be noted that these new recommendations primarily address the use of "stent retrievers," which would include the Solitaire and Trevo devices, but not the Merci or Pneumbra devices.  These latter devices are referred to as mechanical clot disruption/extraction devices in the 2013 Guideline (Jauch, 2013), and are mentioned in statement # 10 above as alternatives in some cases.  Unfortunately the guidelines do not provide guidance as to what those circumstances may be.

Broderick and colleagues published the results of the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) funded, international IMS III Trial in early 2013.  This large, phase III randomized study of IV tPA versus IV tPA followed by intra-arterial therapies was subsequently stopped early due to futility after the first 656 subjects were randomized (434 to endovascular treatment and 222 to IV tPA).  The interim analysis by the data management board for this study found no significant differences between the two groups with regard to the blinded primary endpoint (mRS at 90 days), or between any pre-specified secondary outcomes among subgroups.  These findings are echoed in the report of another large randomized trial by the Synthesis Expansion investigators (Ciccone, 2013).  This study enrolled 362 subjects randomly assigned to receive IV tPA (n=181) or endovascular therapy (n=181) without initial IV tPA treatment.  No significant difference between groups was noted with regard to the blinded endpoint of mRS at 90 days, or any other endpoint including deaths or complications at 7 days.  Subgroup analysis also found no significant differences.  It should be noted that both these trials involved a variety of endovascular devices, including the Merci Retriever, the Trevo Retriever, and the Solitaire and Penumbra devices.  Finally the results of the NINDS MR RESCUE (Magnetic Resonance and REcanalization of Stroke Clots Using Embolectomy) study were published in the same edition of the New England Journal of Medicine (Kidwell, 2013).  The purpose of this randomized controlled, blinded outcome study involving 118 subjects was to compare the effectiveness of treating acute ischemic stroke with mechanical embolectomy using the Merci Retrieval System or the Penumbra System within 8 hours of symptom onset to standard medical treatment and the possible benefits of identifying people who might benefit from mechanical embolectomy with multimodal computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.  The authors reported that there was no significant difference between treatment groups (embolectomy vs. medical treatment) or between imaging methods with regard to the primary outcome (90-day mRS), or any secondary outcomes.

In an editorial accompanying the IMS III publication, the author noted that, while there was some data to suggest that there was a trend to significance for newer stent-like devices, further trials were warranted to evaluate the use of these newer technologies (Chemowitz, 2013).  He also commented that recruitment for these studies was made difficult by the assumption of superiority of endovascular therapies.  He then concluded that, "It is hoped that equipoise will return on the basis of these three trials."  Equipoise is an important consideration in medical research.  When equipoise is not present, it is not ethical to randomize between two treatments.  Chemowitz's comments and the AHA/ASA Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke (Jauch, 2013) both support the need for and appropriateness of additional randomized trials to evaluate the role of mechanical embolectomy in the treatment of stroke. 

Multiple meta-analyses addressing the use of mechanical embolectomy were published involving the same pooled dataset from the MR CLEAN, ESCAPE, REVASCAT, and EXTEND-IA trials described above.  Overall, 1287 subjects were included in these studies.  Saver et al. (2016) reported on time to treatment and functional outcomes.  They found that the degree of benefit, as measured by overall mRS score, declined with longer times from symptom onset to arterial puncture (common OR [cOR]=2.79 at 3 hours, 1.98 at 6 hours, and 1.57 at 8 hours).  Similarly the odds of functional independence also declined with longer time to treatment (OR=2.38 at 3 hours, 2.23 at 6 hours. and 2.03 at 8 hours).  Finally, disability outcomes at 90 days followed the same trend, declining with longer time to treatment in the endovascular group (cOR=2.79 at 3 hours, 1.98 at 6 hours, and 1.57 at 8 hours).  Notably, it was found that among 390 participants who achieved substantial reperfusion with endovascular thrombectomy, each 1-hour delay to reperfusion was associated with a less favorable degree of disability (cOR=0.84) and less functional independence (OR=0.81), but no change in mortality (OR=1.12).  Touma and colleagues (2016) also investigated the benefits and risks of using stent retrievers in addition to tPA for the treatment of strokes with similar results.  They concluded that subjects treated with stent-retriever therapy in addition to tPA had significantly improved rates of functional independence at 90 days compared with those randomized to tPA alone (RR=1.72).  However, the impact of mechanical embolectomy on all-cause mortality at 90 days was inconclusive (RR=0.82).  There were similarly no detectable differences in the risks of intracranial hemorrhage (RR=1.15) or parenchymal hematoma (RR=1.18).  Goyal (2016) also reported that mechanical thrombectomy led to significantly reduced disability at 90 days compared with control treatment (cOR=2.49; p<0.0001).  They found that the number needed to treat with endovascular thrombectomy to reduce disability by at least one level on mRS for 1 subject was 2.6.  Interestingly, a subgroup analysis of the primary endpoint demonstrated no heterogeneity of treatment effect across prespecified subgroups for reduced disability (pinteraction=0.43).  Effect sizes favoring endovascular thrombectomy over control treatment were present in several strata, including in subjects aged 80 years or older (cOR=3.68), those randomized more than 300 minutes after symptom onset (cOR=1.76), and those not eligible for tPA (cOR=2.43).  They also reported that mortality at 90 days and risk of parenchymal hematoma and symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage did not differ between populations.

Campbell (2016), using the same dataset but limited to subjects treated specifically with the Solitaire device, conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy and safety of mechanical thrombectomy using the Solitaire device in anterior circulation ischemic stroke.  Their primary analysis involved 787 subjects (n=401 treated with Solitaire and n=386 controls).  The cOR for mRS improvement was 2.7 with no heterogeneity in effect by age, sex, baseline stroke severity, extent of computed tomography changes, site of occlusion, or pretreatment with tPA.  Successful revascularization occurred in 77% of those treated with the Solitaire device.  The rate of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage and overall mortality did not differ between treatment groups.

Gretch (2016) reported the results of a meta-analysis assessing the recanalization rates and long-term functional outcomes of the Solitaire and Trevo devices.  This study involved pooled data from 20 trials meeting inclusion criteria, 17 using the Solitaire and 3 using the Trevo, with n=762 and n=210 subjects, respectively.  The authors reported that use of the Solitaire device resulted in a lower mortality rate compared to Trevo device (16.2% vs. 22.2%) and achieved a higher rate of functional independence (52.1% vs. 47.6%).  Statistical tests, however, failed to demonstrate significant differences between groups in functional outcomes, 3-month mortality rates, or weighted mean recanalization rates.  They concluded that no significant differences in functional outcomes, mortality, and symptomatic intra-cranial hemorrhage could be demonstrated between the Trevo and Solitaire devices.

Rodrigues (2016) reported the results of a meta-analysis involving 10 RCTs (n=2925) in pooled analysis addressing the efficacy and safety of endovascular treatment.  As with the previously discussed reports above, they reported that endovascular treatment, including thrombectomy, was associated with a higher proportion of participants experiencing good (mRS scores ≤ 2) and excellent (scores ≤ 1) outcomes 90 days after stroke, without differences in mortality or rates for symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, compared with standard medical care alone.  A subgroup analysis of the seven most recent studies yielded an RR=1.56 for good functional outcomes and RR=0.86 for mortality, without heterogeneity among the results of the studies.  The authors concluded that the risk of bias was moderate across studies.

Conclusion

The available evidence addressing the use of mechanical embolectomy devices is extensive; with earlier studies there was significant heterogeneity with regard to subject populations, devices compared, control or comparison groups and other methodologic limitations.  However, more recent data from large, well-designed and conducted studies (Berkhemer, 2014; Campbell, 2014, 2015; Goyal, 2015; Joval, 2015; Saver, 2015) have demonstrated significant benefits to mechanical embolectomy/thrombectomy in select individuals.

Background/Overview

A stroke is a condition where blood flow to the brain is interrupted to the extent that proper brain function is disrupted.  Over 750,000 strokes occur annually in the United States.  Some strokes are caused by blockage of the blood vessels to the brain, which frequently results in neurologic emergencies.  The use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug that dissolves blood clots, is frequently given intravenously within 3 hours of symptoms for treatment of strokes due to blocked blood vessels.  Another treatment, called mechanical embolectomy, has been proposed to reopen occluded vessels in the brain, either alone or in conjunction with tPA treatment, by physically extracting occlusive thrombi from the cerebral vasculature.   

Several mechanical embolectomy devices have received FDA clearance through the 510(k) process; including the Merci Retrieval System, the Penumbra System, the Solitaire FR Revascularization Device, and the Trevo Retriever.  These devices are designed to be placed into an artery of a stroke victim and, with the guidance of x-ray imaging technology, advanced to the site of the clot in the brain.  Once near the site of the blood clot, these types of devices use one of several methods to capture the clot and remove it.  It is proposed that by removing the clot, normal blood flow to the brain is restored, which in turn may reduce any damage caused by the lack of blood flow.

Definitions

Alberta Stroke Program Early Computed Tomography Score (ASPECTS): A 10-point quantitative topographic CT scan score developed to assess early ischemic changes on pretreatment CT studies in individuals with acute ischemic stroke of the anterior circulation. ASPECTS is determined from evaluation of two standardized regions of the MCA territory, including the basal ganglia level and the supraganglionic level. The abnormality should be visible on at least two consecutive cuts to ensure that it is truly abnormal rather than a volume averaging effect. To compute the ASPECTS, 1 point is subtracted from 10 for any evidence of early ischemic change for each of the defined regions. A normal CT scan receives ASPECTS of 10 points. A score of 0 indicates diffuse involvement throughout the MCA territory.

Embolectomy: Surgical removal of an obstructing clot or foreign material which has been transported from a distant vessel by the bloodstream.

Emboli: Material (usually a blood clot but may be fat or a bone fragment, etc.) that travels through the circulation and eventually obstructs blood flow through a smaller caliber vessel.

National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS): A systematic assessment tool that provides a quantitative measure of stroke-related neurologic deficit. The scale is widely used as a clinical assessment tool to evaluate acuity of stroke patients, determine appropriate treatment, and predict patient outcome. It is a 15-item neurologic examination evaluating the effect of acute cerebral infarction on the levels of consciousness, language, neglect, visual-field loss, extraocular movement, motor strength, ataxia, dysarthria, and sensory loss. The Score is intended to be used by a trained observer who rates an individual's ability to answer questions and perform activities. Ratings for each item are scored with 3 to 5 grades with 0 as normal, and there is an allowance for untestable items. The single assessment requires less than 10 minutes to complete.

Neurovasculature: The blood vessel network of the neck and brain.

Plasmin: A proteolytic enzyme that is formed from plasminogen in blood plasma and dissolves the fibrin in blood clots; also called fibrinolysin.

Stroke: A condition where blood flow to the brain is interrupted to the extent that proper brain function is disrupted. 

Thrombolytics: Drugs that dissolve blood clots.

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA): An enzyme that dissolves blood clots. It can be produced naturally by cells in the walls of blood vessels, or prepared through the use of genetic engineering. Tissue plasminogen activator is used in the coronary arteries during heart attacks and in the cranial arteries in certain types of strokes.

Coding

The following codes for treatments and procedures applicable to this document are included below for informational purposes. Inclusion or exclusion of a procedure, diagnosis or device code(s) does not constitute or imply member coverage or provider reimbursement policy. Please refer to the member's contract benefits in effect at the time of service to determine coverage or non-coverage of these services as it applies to an individual member.

When services may be Medically Necessary when criteria are met:

CPT  
  For the following procedure codes when describing embolectomy/thrombectomy of middle cerebral, anterior cerebral or intracranial carotid arteries:
61645 Percutaneous arterial transluminal mechanical thrombectomy and/or infusion for thrombolysis, intracranial, any method, including diagnostic angiography, fluoroscopic guidance, catheter placement, and intraprocedural pharmacological thrombolytic injection(s)
   
ICD-10 Procedure  
03CG3Z6-03CG4Z6 Extirpation of matter from intracranial artery, bifurcation [by approach]
03CG3ZZ-03CG4ZZ Extirpation of matter from intracranial artery [by approach]
   
ICD-10 Diagnosis  
G45.0-G45.9 Transient cerebral ischemic attacks and related syndromes
I63.30 Cerebral infarction due to thrombosis of unspecified cerebral artery
I63.311-I63.319 Cerebral infarction due to thrombosis of middle cerebral artery
I63.321-I63.329 Cerebral infarction due to thrombosis of anterior cerebral artery
I63.39 Cerebral infarction due to thrombosis of other cerebral artery
I63.40 Cerebral infarction due to embolism of unspecified cerebral artery
I63.411-I63.419 Cerebral infarction due to embolism of middle cerebral artery
I63.421-I63.429 Cerebral infarction due to embolism of anterior cerebral artery
I63.49 Cerebral infarction due to embolism of other cerebral artery
I63.8-I63.9 Cerebral infarction other or unspecified
Z92.82 Status post administration of tPA (rtPA) in a different facility within the last 24 hours prior to admission to current facility

When services are Investigational and Not Medically Necessary:
For the following procedure and diagnosis codes, or when the code describes a procedure indicated in the Position Statement section as investigational and not medically necessary. 

CPT  
  For the following procedure codes when describing embolectomy/thrombectomy of other cerebral or precerebral arteries:
61645 Percutaneous arterial transluminal mechanical thrombectomy and/or infusion for thrombolysis, intracranial, any method, including diagnostic angiography, fluoroscopic guidance, catheter placement, and intraprocedural pharmacological thrombolytic injection(s)
   
ICD-10 Procedure  
03CH3Z6-03CJ4ZZ Extirpation of matter from common carotid artery or bifurcation [right or left, by approach; includes codes 03CH3Z6, 03CH3ZZ, 03CH4Z6, 03CH4ZZ, 03CJ3Z6, 03CJ3ZZ, 03CJ4Z6, 03CJ4ZZ]
03CK3Z6-03CL4ZZ Extirpation of matter from internal carotid artery or bifurcation [right or left, by approach; includes codes 03CK3Z6, 03CK3ZZ, 03CK4Z6, 03CK4ZZ, 03CL3Z6, 03CL3ZZ, 03CL4Z6, 03CL4ZZ]
03CM3Z6-03CN4ZZ Extirpation of matter from external carotid artery or bifurcation [right or left, by approach; includes codes 03CM3Z6, 03CM3ZZ, 03CM4Z6, 03CM4ZZ, 03CN3Z6, 03CN3ZZ, 03CN4Z6, 03CN4ZZ]
03CP3Z6-03CQ4ZZ Extirpation of matter from vertebral artery or bifurcation [right or left, by approach; includes codes 03CP3Z6, 03CP3ZZ, 03CP4Z6, 03CP4ZZ, 03CQ3Z6, 03CQ3ZZ, 03CQ4Z6, 03CQ4ZZ]
03CS3Z6-03CT4ZZ Extirpation of matter from temporal artery or bifurcation [right or left, by approach; includes codes 03CS3Z6, 03CS3ZZ, 03CS4Z6, 03CS4ZZ, 03CT3Z6, 03CT3ZZ, 03CT4Z6, 03CT4ZZ]
   
ICD-10 Diagnosis  
G45.0-G45.9 Transient cerebral ischemic attacks and related syndromes
I63.00-I63.09 Cerebral infarction due to thrombosis of precerebral arteries
I63.10-I63.19 Cerebral infarction due to embolism of precerebral arteries
I63.20-I63.29 Cerebral infarction due to unspecified occlusion or stenosis of precerebral arteries
I63.331-I63.349 Cerebral infarction due to thrombosis of posterior cerebral or cerebellar artery
I63.431-I63.449 Cerebral infarction due to embolism of posterior cerebral or cerebellar artery
I63.50-I63.59 Cerebral infarction due to unspecified occlusion or stenosis cerebral arteries
I63.8-I63.9 Cerebral infarction other or unspecified
Z92.82 Status post administration of tPA (rtPA) in a different facility within the last 24 hours prior to admission to current facility
   
References

Peer Reviewed Publications:

  1. Albers GW, Goyal M, Jahan R, et al. Relationships between imaging assessments and outcomes in Solitaire with the intention for thrombectomy as primary endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke. Stroke. 2015; 46(10):2786-2794.
  2. Becker KJ, Brott TG. Approval of the MERCI clot retriever: a critical view. Stroke. 2005; 36(2):400-403.
  3. Berkhemer OA, Fransen PS, Beumer D, et al.; MR CLEAN Investigators. A randomized trial of intraarterial treatment for acute ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372(1):11-20.
  4. Bose A, Henkes H, Alfke K, et al. The Penumbra System: a mechanical device for the treatment of acute stroke due to thromboembolism. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2008; 29(7):1409-1413.
  5. Broderick JP, Palesch YY, Demchuk AM, et al.; Interventional Management of Stroke (IMS) III Investigators. Endovascular therapy after intravenous t-PA versus t-PA alone for stroke. N Engl J Med. 2013; 368(10):893-903.
  6. Campbell BC, Hill MD, Rubiera M, et al. Safety and efficacy of solitaire stent thrombectomy: individual patient data meta-analysis of randomized trials. Stroke. 2016; 47(3):798-806.
  7. Campbell BC, Mitchell PJ, Kleinig TJ, et al.; the EXTEND-IA Investigators. Endovascular therapy for ischemic stroke with perfusion-imaging selection. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372(11):1009-1018.
  8. Campbell BC, Mitchell PJ, Yan B, et al.; EXTEND-IA Investigators. A multicenter, randomized, controlled study to investigate EXtending the time for Thrombolysis in Emergency Neurological Deficits with Intra-Arterial therapy (EXTEND-IA). Int J Stroke. 2014; 9(1):126-132.
  9. Chimowitz MI. Endovascular treatment for acute Ischemic stroke--still unproven. N Engl J Med. 2013; 368(10):952-955.
  10. Ciccone A, Valvassori L, Nichelatti M, et al.; SYNTHESIS Expansion Investigators. Endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. 2013; 368(10):904-913.
  11. Cohen JE, Gomori JM, Leker RR, et al. Recanalization with stent-based mechanical thrombectomy in anterior circulation major ischemic stroke. J Clin Neurosci. 2012; 19(1):39-43.
  12. Costalat V, Machi P, Lobotesis K, et al. Rescue, combined, and stand-alone thrombectomy in the management of large vessel occlusion stroke using the Solitaire device: a prospective 50-patient single-center study: timing, safety, and efficacy. Stroke. 2011; 42(7):1929-1935.
  13. Dávalos A, Cobo E, Molina CA, et al.; REVASCAT Trial Investigators. Safety and efficacy of thrombectomy in acute ischaemic stroke (REVASCAT): 1-year follow-up of a randomised open-label trial. Lancet Neurol. 2017. [Epub ahead of print]
  14. Davis SM, Donnan GA. Merci retriever: does it work? Stroke. 2006; 37(5):1343-1344.
  15. Devlin TG, Baxter BW, Feintuch TA, Desbiens NA. The Merci Retrieval System for acute stroke: the Southeast Regional Stroke Center experience. Neurocrit Care. 2007; 6(1):11-21.
  16. Fesl G, Patzig M, Holtmannspoetter M, et al. Endovascular mechanical recanalisation after intravenous thrombolysis in acute anterior circulation stroke: the impact of a new temporary stent. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2011; 34(2):280-286.
  17. Fields JD, Lustep HL, Smith WS.; MERCI Multi MERCI Investigators. Higher degrees of recanalization after mechanical thrombectomy for acute stroke are associated with improved outcome and decreased mortality: pooled analysis of the MERCI and Multi MERCI trials. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2011; 32(11):2170 -2174.
  18. Flint AC, Duckwiler GR, Budzik RF, et al. Mechanical thrombectomy of intracranial internal carotid occlusion: pooled results of the MERCI and Multi MERCI Part I trials. Stroke. 2007; 38(4):1274-1280.
  19. Furlan A, Higashida R, Wechsler L, et al. Intra-arterial prourokinase for acute ischemic stroke. The PROACT II study: a randomized controlled trial. Prolyse in Acute Cerebral Thromboembolism. JAMA. 1999; 282(21):2003-2011.
  20. Goyal M, Demchuk AM, Menon BK, et al.; the ESCAPE Trial Investigators. Randomized assessment of rapid endovascular treatment of ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372:1019-1030.
  21. Goyal M, Menon BK, van Zwam WH, et al.; HERMES Collaborators. Endovascular thrombectomy after large-vessel ischaemic stroke: a meta-analysis of individual patient data from five randomised trials. Lancet. 2016; 387(10029):1723-1731.
  22. Grech R, Pullicino R, Thornton J, Downer J. An efficacy and safety comparison between different stentriever designs in acute ischaemic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Radiol. 2016; 71(1):48-57.
  23. Hann S, Chalouhi N, Starke R, et al. Comparison of neurologic and radiographic outcomes with Solitaire versus Merci/Penumbra systems for acute stroke intervention. Biomed Res Int. 2013; 2013:715170.
  24. Hentschel KA, Daou B, Chalouhi N, et al. Comparison of non-stent retriever and stent retriever mechanical thrombectomy devices for the endovascular treatment of acute ischemic stroke. J Neurosurg. 2017; 126(4):1123-1130.
  25. IMS Study Investigators. Combined intravenous and intra-arterial recanalization for acute ischemic stroke: the Interventional Management of Stroke (IMS) Study. Stroke. 2004; 35(4):904-911.
  26. IMS II Trial Investigators. The Interventional Management of Stroke (IMS) II Study. Stroke. 2007; 38(7):2127-2135. 
  27. Jovin TG, Chamorro A, Cobo E, et al.; REVASCAT Trial Investigators. Thrombectomy within 8 hours after symptom onset in ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372:2296-2306.
  28. Kidwell CS, Jahan R, Gornbein J, et al.; MR RESCUE Investigators. A trial of imaging selection and endovascular treatment for ischemic stroke. N Engl J Med. 2013; 368(10):914-923.
  29. Kim D, Jahan R, Starkman S, et al. Endovascular mechanical clot retrieval in a broad ischemic stroke cohort. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2006; 27(10):2048-2052.
  30. Lutsep HL. Mechanical endovascular recanalization therapies. Curr Opin Neurol. 2008; 21(1):70-75.
  31. Machi P, Costalat V, Lobotesis K, et al. Solitaire FR thrombectomy system: immediate results in 56 consecutive acute ischemic stroke patients. J Neurointerv Surg. 2012; 4(1):62-66.
  32. Miteff F, Faulder KC, Goh AC, et al. Mechanical thrombectomy with a self-expanding retrievable intracranial stent (Solitaire AB): experience in 26 patients with acute cerebral artery occlusion. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2011; 32(6):1078-1081.
  33. Mpotsaris A, Bussmeyer M, Loehr C, et al. Mechanical thrombectomy in severe acute stroke: preliminary results of the Solitaire stent. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2012; 83(1):117-118.
  34. Nogueira RG, Lutsep HL, Gupta R, et al. Trevo versus Merci retrievers for thrombectomy revascularisation of large vessel occlusions in acute ischaemic stroke (TREVO 2): a randomised trial. Lancet. 2012; 380(9849):1231-1240.
  35. Penumbra Pivotal Stroke Trial Investigators. The penumbra pivotal stroke trial: safety and effectiveness of a new generation of mechanical devices for clot removal in intracranial large vessel occlusive disease. Stroke. 2009; 40(8):2761-2768.
  36. Pereira VM, Gralla J, Davalos A, et al. Prospective, multicenter, single-arm study of mechanical thrombectomy using Solitaire Flow Restoration in acute ischemic stroke. Stroke. 2013; 44(10):2802-2807.
  37. Rodrigues FB, Neves JB, Caldeira D, et al. Endovascular treatment versus medical care alone for ischaemic stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2016; 353:i1754.
  38. Roth C, Papanagiotou P, Behnke S, et al. Stent-assisted mechanical recanalization for treatment of acute intracerebral artery occlusions. Stroke. 2010; 41(11):2559-2567.
  39. San Román L, Obach V, Blasco J, et al. Single-center experience of cerebral artery thrombectomy using the TREVO device in 60 patients with acute ischemic stroke. Stroke. 2012; 43(6):1657-1659.
  40. Saver JL. Does the Merci retriever work? For. Stroke. 2006; 37(5):1340-1341.
  41. Saver JL, Goyal M, Bonafe A, et al.; SWIFT PRIME Investigators. Stent-retriever thrombectomy after intravenous t-PA vs. t-PA alone in stroke. N Engl J Med. 2015; 372:2285-2295.
  42. Saver JL, Goyal M, van der Lugt A, et al.; HERMES Collaborators. Time to treatment with endovascular thrombectomy and outcomes from ischemic stroke: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016; 316(12):1279-1288.
  43. Saver JL, Jahan R, Levy EI, et al. Solitaire flow restoration device versus the Merci Retriever in patients with acute ischaemic stroke (SWIFT): a randomised, parallel-group, non-inferiority trial. Lancet. 2012; 380(9849):1241-1249.
  44. Shi ZS, Loh Y, Walker G, Duckwiler GR.; MERCI and Multi-MERCI Investigators. Clinical outcomes in middle cerebral artery trunk occlusions versus secondary division occlusions after mechanical thrombectomy: pooled analysis of the Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia (MERCI) and Multi MERCI trials. Stroke. 2010; 41(5):953-960.
  45. Smith WS. Safety of mechanical thrombectomy and intravenous tissue plasminogen activator in acute ischemic stroke. Results of the multi Mechanical Embolus Removal in Cerebral Ischemia (MERCI) trial, part I. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2006; 27(6):1177-1182.
  46. Smith WS. Intra-arterial thrombolytic therapy for acute basilar occlusion: pro. Stroke. 2007; 38(2 Suppl):701-703.
  47. Smith WS, Sung G, Saver J, et al. Mechanical thrombectomy for acute ischemic stroke: final results of the Multi MERCI trial. Stroke. 2008; 39(4):1205-1212.
  48. Smith WS, Sung G, Starkman S, et al. Safety and efficacy of mechanical embolectomy in acute ischemic stroke: results of the MERCI trial. Stroke. 2005; 36(7):1432-1438.
  49. Tarr R, Hsu D, Kulcsar Z, et al. The POST trial: initial post-market experience of the Penumbra system: revascularization of large vessel occlusion in acute ischemic stroke in the United States and Europe. J Neurointerv Surg. 2010; 2(4):341-344.
  50. Touma L, Filion KB, Sterling LH, et al. Stent retrievers for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(3):275-281.
  51. van den Berg LA, Dijkgraaf MG, Berkhemer OA, et al.; MR CLEAN Investigators. Two-Year Outcome after Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke. N Engl J Med. 2017; 376(14):1341-1349.
  52. Versnick EJ, Do HM, Albers, GW, et al. Mechanical thrombectomy for acute stroke. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2005; 26(4):875-879.
  53. Wechsler LR. Does the Merci retriever work? Against. Stroke. 2006; 37(5):1341-1342.

 Government Agency, Medical Society and Other Authoritative Publications:

  1. Albers GW, Goldstein LB, Hess DC, et al.; STAIR VII Consortium. Stroke Treatment Academic Industry Roundtable (STAIR) recommendations for maximizing the use of intravenous thrombolytics and expanding treatment options with intra-arterial and neuroprotective therapies. Stroke. 2011; 42(9):2645-2950.
  2. Baker WL, Colby JA, Tongbram V, et al. Neurothrombectomy devices for treatment of acute ischemic stroke. [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); January 2011. Available at: http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/ehc/products/161/612/Stroke_Thrombectomy_TechnicalBrief4_20110707.pdf. Accessed on February 26, 2017.
  3. Lansberg MG, O'Donnell MJ, Khatri P, et al.; American College of Chest Physicians. Antithrombotic and thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke: Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines. Chest. 2012; 141(2 Suppl):e601S-636S.
  4. Meyers P, Schumacher HC, Higashida R, et al. Indications for the performance of intracranial endovascular neurointerventional procedures: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Radiology and Intervention, Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia, Interdisciplinary Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease, and Interdisciplinary Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. Circulation. 2009; 119(16):2235-2249.
  5. Powers WJ, Derdeyn CP, Biller J, et al.; American Heart Association Stroke Council. 2015 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Focused Update of the 2013 Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke Regarding Endovascular Treatment: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2015; 46(10):3020-3035.
  6. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Final report of the Stroke Progress Review Group - Topic area working group full reports. January 19, 2012. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/About-NINDS/Strategic-Plans-Evaluations/Strategic-Plans/Final-Report-Stroke-Progress-Review-Group . Accessed on February 26, 2017.
  7. Sacks D, Connors JJ 3rd, Black CM. Society of Interventional Radiology position statement on endovascular acute ischemic stroke interventions. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013; 24(9):1263-1266.
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) Premarket Notification Database. Modified Merci® Retriever. Summary of Safety and Effectiveness. No. K070521. Rockville, MD: FDA. April 24, 2007. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf7/K070521.pdf. Accessed on February 26, 2017.
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) Premarket Notification Database. Penumbra SystemTM . Summary of Safety and Effectiveness. No. K072718. Rockville, MD: FDA. September 20, 2007. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf7/K072718.pdf. Accessed on February 26, 2017.
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) Premarket Notification Database. Solitaire FR Revascularization Device. Summary of Safety and Effectiveness. No. K113455. Rockville, MD: FDA. March 2, 2012. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/SCRIPTS/cdrh/devicesatfda/index.cfm?db=pmn&id=K113455. Accessed on February 26, 2017.
  11. U.S. Food and Drug Administration 510(k) Premarket Notification Database. Trevo Retirever Device. Summary of Safety and Effectiveness. No. K120961. Rockville, MD: FDA. July 27, 2012. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf12/K120961.pdf. Accessed on February 26, 2017.
Index

Mechanical embolectomy
Mechanical thrombectomy

The use of specific product names is illustrative only. It is not intended to be a recommendation of one product over another, and is not intended to represent a complete listing of all products available.

Document History
Status Date Action
Reviewed 05/04/2017 Medical Policy & Technology Assessment Committee (MPTAC) review. Updated formatting in "Position Statement" section. Updated Rationale and References sections.
  10/01/2016 Updated Coding section with 10/01/2016 ICD-10-PCS procedure code changes.
Revised 05/05/2016 MPTAC review. Removed MN criteria related to age. Added NM criteria regarding type of device. Updated Rationale and References sections.
  01/01/2016 Updated Coding section with 01/01/2016 CPT changes, removed 37184, 37185 (no longer applicable); also removed ICD-9 codes.
Revised 08/06/2015 MPTAC review. Clarified medically necessary criteria regarding neuroimaging.
Revised 05/07/2015 MPTAC review. Revised position statement to consider mechanical embolectomy/ thrombectomy medically necessary with criteria. Updated Rationale, Coding and References sections.
Reviewed 11/13/2014 MPTAC review. Updated Rationale and References sections.
Reviewed 11/14/2013 MPTAC review. Updated Rationale and References sections.
Reviewed 11/08/2012 MPTAC review. Updated Rationale, Background, Definitions and References sections.
Reviewed 05/10/2012 MPTAC review. Rationale updated to include Solitaire device. Background, Definitions and References updated.
Reviewed 02/16/2012 MPTAC review. Rationale and References updated.
Reviewed 02/17/2011 MPTAC review. Rationale and References updated.
Reviewed 02/25/2010 MPTAC review. Rationale and References updated.
Reviewed 02/26/2009 MPTAC review. Rationale, Background and References updated.
Reviewed 02/21/2008 MPTAC review. Updated references. The phrase "investigational/not medically necessary" was clarified to read "investigational and not medically necessary" at the November 29, 2007 MPTAC meeting.
New 03/08/2007 MPTAC review. Initial document development.