Periprocedural Stroke and Cardiac Catheterization
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Case presentation: During cardiac catheterization, a 65-year-old man suddenly complained of nuchal pain, vertigo, and nausea and rapidly became unconscious, presumably from a stroke. The operator was unsure what type of imaging and management should be undertaken in this infrequent clinical setting. He paged the neurologist, asking him to urgently provide a strategy for diagnosis and management.
Stroke in Cardiac Catheterization: Incidence, Outcome, Risk Factors, and Mechanisms
Although the overall rate of stroke after left heart catheterization or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is low, ranging from 0.2% to 0.4% (Tables 1 and 2⇓),1–5 it is the most debilitating complication from the patient’s perspective, associated with a high rate of morbidity and mortality (Figure 1).1–8 In 20 679 consecutive patients who underwent PCI in a large-volume center, stroke occurred in 0.44%.4 Multivariate analysis has shown that the occurrence of stroke was more frequently associated with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, prior stroke, or renal failure and was independently associated with in-hospital death. Patients who suffered a stroke had previously undergone longer cardiac catheterization procedures, using more contrast, were more likely to have had the procedure for urgent reasons, and to have had intraaortic balloon counterpulsation, a procedure that is itself known to increase the risk of stroke.9 Possible explanations for this latter characteristic include the greater propensity for hemodynamic compromise in these patients, which may increase the risk of ischemic stroke, and less meticulous care in advancing the catheter through the aorta during urgent PCI, which increases the risk of embolization by scraping of aortic plaques with subsequent embolization of debris to the brain. Indeed, scraping of aortic plaques occurs in >50% of PCI cases and more frequently with large than with small catheters.10 Cerebral microembolism is thought to be the main mechanism of periprocedural ischemic stroke occurring with PCI. This finding is supported …