OBJECTIVE: Sudden major cerebral artery occlusion often resists recanalization with currently available techniques or can results in massive symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (sICH) after thrombolytic therapy. The purpose of this study was to examine mechanical recanalization with a retrievable self-expanding stent and balloon in acute intracranial artery occlusions. METHODS: Twenty-eight consecutive patients with acute intracranial artery occlusions were treated with a Solitaire retrievable stent. Balloon angioplasty was added if successful recanalization was not achieved after stent retrieval. The angiographic outcome was assessed by Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction (TICI) and the clinical outcomes were assessed by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) and the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). RESULTS: At baseline, mean age was 69.4 years and mean initial NIHSS score was 12.5. A recanalization to TICI 2 or 3 was achieved in 24 patients (85%) after stent retrieval. Successful recanalization was achieved after additional balloon angioplasty in 4 patients. At 90-day follow-up, 24 patients (85%) had a NIHSS improvement of > or =4 and 17 patients (60%) had a good outcome (mRS < or =2). Although there was sICH, there was one death associated with the procedure. CONCLUSION: Mechanical thromboembolectomy with a retrievable stent followed by additional balloon angioplasty is a safe and effective first-line therapy for acute intracranial artery occlusions especially in case of unsuccessful recanalization after stent thrombectomy.