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  • Updated 02.26.2024
  • Released 03.14.2012
  • Expires For CME 02.26.2027

Cardiac catheterization: neurologic complications



Neurologic complications following diagnostic cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary interventions occur infrequently but are likely to be encountered by the practicing neurologist. In this article, the authors review the incidence and mechanisms of various procedure-related nervous system injuries, with an emphasis on stroke. Various coronary stent types and requirements for antithrombotic therapy to maintain stent patency have a significant implication on bleeding risk, especially intracranially. This risk is further magnified when the patient requires both anticoagulant therapy and dual antiplatelet therapy. The effects of acute kidney injury, which may be caused by radiographic contrast, as well as the potential impact of chronic renal failure on procedural stroke are discussed. Catheter arterial access locations, their risks, and potential benefits as well as peripheral nervous system complications of such are reviewed.

Key points

• Cardiac catheterization is successfully performed in large numbers of patients worldwide for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

• Neurologic complications involving both the central and peripheral nervous systems, although infrequent, are important cause of neurologic consultations given the high volume of patients evaluated and treated with these techniques.

• Stroke (most ischemic and hemorrhagic), the most dreaded complication, can occur by a variety of mechanisms following cardiac catheterization.

• Treatment strategies of stroke following cardiac catheterization need to be based on the type of intervention and concurrent medications used during the cardiac procedure.

• Medications required to avoid stent thrombosis may produce hemorrhagic complications.

• Specific peripheral nerve injuries can occur as a consequence of cardiac catheterization (eg, compression, traction, laceration).

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