October 30, 2019

Background: Currently, alteplase is the mainstay of treatment of acute ischemic stroke.  Advocates of alteplase suggest that the benefit of alteplase is greatest when given early and declines with increasing time from stroke symptom onset (i.e. time is brain).  Therefore, the AHA/ASA guidelines recommend intravenous alteplase within 4.5 hours after stroke onset, which is based on very weak evidence (i.e. NINDS & ECASS III). Due to weak evidence in support of it’s use and significant patient risks associated with alteplase, it’s use in acute ischemic stroke remains controversial.  One of the big issues is that by decreasing the time for evaluation and treatment, there is an increased risk of administrating alteplase to patients presenting with noncerebrovascular conditions that can resemble an acute ischemic stroke (i.e. stroke mimics).  This puts patients with no chance of improvement with alteplase at risk for increased mortality and symptomatic ICH.  There is some limited data on the safety of alteplase in stroke mimics and this study adds to that knowledge.

August 29, 2019

Background: Migraine is a chronic neurologic disease characterized by attacks of throbbing, often unilateral headache that are exacerbated by physical activity and associated with photophobia, phonophobia, nausea, vomiting, and, in many patients, cutaneous allodynia. Migraine is very common, and the burden of illness is substantial, with annual total costs estimated at $27 billion in the United States and ranking as the second most-disabling neurologic condition globally in terms of years lost to disability. Both preventive and abortive treatments have evolved alongside medicine’s improving understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of migraine and the discovery of new and effective therapies, however current treatments such as triptan therapy and neuroleptics are limited due to adverse effects (up to 52% in some cohorts) and contra-indications. Concerns about these effects were reported in one study to result in delays in treatment or avoidance of treatment in two thirds of patients. (Gallagher 2003).

June 3, 2019

Background: Despite the lack of replication of the NINDS & ECASS-3 trials, guidelines recommend the use of tPA in the ≤4.5hr window after the onset of symptoms of acute ischemic stroke [2]. These recommendations used non-contrast computed tomography (NCHCT) for the selection of patients.  More recent endovascular studies have shown that perfusion-based imaging can show potential viable brain tissue beyond the 4.5 hour mark in patients with large vessel occlusions and result in good neurologic outcomes.  This advance has prompted investigators to look at perfusion-based technology to identify a larger cohort of patients without large vessel occlusion that may be candidates for systemic thrombolysis.  One of the big fears in stroke management is the concept of indication creep: finding more uses for a medication or product without strong evidence to support its use. The bigger question is, does this increase in use help the company’s bottom line or the patient? It is no wonder physicians are skeptical of industry sponsored trials, as we sometimes question the motives behind the study.  Now we have another industry sponsored trial: EXTEND. In this trial.

May 15, 2019

Essentials of Emergency Medicine 2019 is taking place at the Cosmopolitan Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, NV. I was asked to give five lectures on varying topics and wanted to share what was discussed at each of these sessions.  If you haven't been to Essentials of Emergency Medicine, you need to add this conference to your list of conferences to attend.  The organizers pride themselves in discussing the latest practice-changing research and have meticulously designed content to maximize enjoyment and retention. In my humble opinion this conference is the quintessential medutainment extravaganza that applies learning theory principles, with amazing speakers, to provide you with the latest and greatest for clinical practice.

April 11, 2019

The shiny new toy in stroke treatment is endovascular therapy.  There have now been 12 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on endovascular stroke therapy (EST), with eight of the last nine showing positive results – stunningly positive.  This flood of positive trials has led to new guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA)that extend the treatment window potentially as far out as 24 hours after last known well, and has spawned a movement to completely overhaul how we deliver care for patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS). With all of the enthusiasm for EST, it is important to review the evolution of this new approach, to review and critique the evidence, and to evaluate what this means in clinical practice.

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