Management of STEMI has been developed over the last years and primary percutaneous coronary intervention, where available, has become the therapy of choice. However, there are some obstacles to achieve successful myocardial reperfusion. One of the most famous obstacles is high thrombus burden which is present in a significant proportion of patients, wire manipulation and balloon dilatation and stent placement in culprit vessel with high thrombus burden cause distal embolization of thrombus particles and atherosclerotic plaque debris impaired myocardial perfusion resulting in poorer short- and long-term outcomes, including heart failure and death.
Management of culprit lesions with high thrombus burden including both pharmacological and mechanical measures to decrease distal embolization and microvascular obstruction these measures includes pharmacological measures, such as adequate antiplatelet therapy, glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists, and coronary vasodilators as adenosine, adrenalin, and verapamil, mechanical evacuation of thrombus as devices dedicated to evacuating or trapping thrombus during intervention to reduce the risk of distal embolization during percutaneous coronary intervention.
One of the most appealing devices dedicated to evacuate thrombi from culprit artery is thrombus aspiration (TA) devices which have been proposed as adjunctive therapy to protect microcirculation from distal embolization [3, 11].
Thrombus aspiration has appealing conceptual value but also conflicting results yielded in randomized clinical trials so this therapy receives only a class of recommendation IIa, level of evidence B according to European Guidelines 2008 , and class III recommendation in European Guidelines 2017.
A number of small-scale or single-center studies and one meta-analysis of 11 small trials suggested that there could be benefits from routine manual thrombus aspiration during primary PCI .
One of the earlier trials is REMEDIA trial which was published in JACC 2005; this trial randomized 100 consecutive patients with STEMI to either standard PCI or PCI with manual thrombus aspiration. Primary endpoints of the study were ST-segment resolution (STR) ≥ 70% and post-procedural rates of myocardial blush grade (MBG) ≥ 2 and which were respectively, 44.9% and 68.0% in the thrombus-aspiration group compared with 36.7% and 58.0% in the standard PCI group. Moreover, the rate of patients achieving both the angiographic and electrocardiographic (ECG) criteria of optimal reperfusion was significantly higher in the thrombus-aspiration group compared with standard PCI: 46.0% versus 24.5% .
TAPAS trial which was a relatively large randomized trial; it was published in 2008 randomized 1071 STEMI patients assigned for primary PCI to the thrombus-aspiration group or the conventional-PCI group before undergoing coronary angiography. A myocardial blush grade of 0 or 1 occurred in 26.3% of the patients in the conventional-PCI group and in 17.1% of those in thrombus-aspiration group (P < 0.001). Complete resolution of ST-segment elevation occurred in 44.2% and 56.6% of patients, respectively (P < 0.001). At 30 days, the rate of death in patients with a myocardial blush grade of 0 or 1, 2, and 3 was 5.2%, 2.9%, and 1.0%, respectively (P = 0.003), and the rate of adverse events was 14.1%, 8.8%, and 4.2%, respectively (P < 0.001) .
Recently, two large randomized controlled trials > 7000 patients, which were adequately powered to detect value of routine manual thrombus aspiration in PPCI versus conventional primary PCI procedure and influence the guidelines recommendation, unfortunately, both trials showed no benefit on clinical outcomes of routine aspiration strategy. Also, there are safety concerns that emerged in the trial of routine aspiration thrombectomy with PCI versus PCI alone in patients with STEMI (TOTAL) trial (n = 10 732), with an increase in the risk of stroke .
We suppose these disappointing results may be yielded by two main causes, the first cause is heterogeneity of patients and wide scale of thrombus burden and heterogeneity of coronary anatomy, second cause is concept of routine use of thrombus aspiration. So we think if we limiting the use of thrombus aspiration device to patients with totally occluded culprit artery by large thrombus burden, we may get the expected benefits of this technique.
In the subgroup of TOTAL trial with high thrombus burden [TIMI (thrombolysis in myocardial infarction) thrombus grade 3], thrombus aspiration was associated with fewer cardiovascular deaths [170 (2.5%) vs. 205 (3.1%); hazard ratio (HR) 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.65–0.98; P = 0.03] and with more strokes or transient ischemic attacks [55 (0.9%) vs. 34 (0.5%); odds ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.02–2.42, P = 0.04]. However, the interaction P values were 0.32 and 0.34, respectively.
In the taste and TOTAL trials, 1–5% of randomized patients crossed over from PCI alone to thrombus aspiration. Based on these data and the results of a recent meta-analysis, the last European guidelines for the management of STEMI patients which was published in 2017 stated that routine thrombus aspiration is not recommended, but in cases of large residual thrombus burden after opening the vessel with a guidewire or a balloon, thrombus aspiration may be considered .
In our study, we tried to evaluate the rule of thrombus aspiration therapy in improving the outcome of primary PCI in STEMI patients with high thrombus burden. Patients were divided into 2 groups: group (B) which included 73 patients, who had undergone PTCA and manual thrombus aspiration followed by stent to culprit lesion when needed, and group (A) which included 136 patients, who had undergone conventional PTCA and stent of culprit lesion within the period from November 2016 till July 2018.
There was no significant difference between both groups as regard clinical background or location of myocardial infarction. The number of needed stents in the thrombus aspiration group is significantly less than conventional PCI group.
Cardiovascular mortality was significantly lower in the thrombus aspiration group that had occurred in 2.7% of patients, but in 11.8% of conventional PCI group. There was a non-significant difference between the two groups as regard other complication (stroke, non-fatal MI, and target vessel revascularization).
There was a statistical significant difference between 2 groups regarding TIMI flow, MBG, ST-segment resolution. TIMI III flow had been achieved in 94.5% of the thrombus aspiration group but had been achieved in 80.1% of conventional PCI group. MBG III had been achieved in 82.2% of the thrombus aspiration group but had been achieved in 58.1% of the conventional PCI group. ST-segment resolution > 70% had been achieved in 97.2% of thrombus aspiration group that had been achieved in 86.8% in conventional PCI group.
After 1 month of primary PCI, while no adverse outcome had developed in 91.8% of the thrombus aspiration group and 77.9% of conventional PCI group. Mortality had occurred in 6.8% of thrombus aspiration group significantly less than conventional PCI group (21.6%). Stroke had occurred in 1 case of conventional PCI group. Non-fatal MI had occurred in 1 case of the thrombus aspiration group.