February 6, 2020

Background Information: The administration of alteplase (tPA) in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) continues to remain a highly debated topic. As hospital systems continue to undergo major changes to facilitate this controversial drug’s administration, more studies are coming out focusing on neuroimaging and how it plays a role in the time window of AIS. The WAKE-UP trial was one of the first studies to identify MRI patterns suggestive of a stroke in patient whose onset time was unknown.1,2 Over the past 10+ years, other studies have also attempted to identify the role of advanced neuroimaging guiding tPA administration for improved functional outcomes. The authors conducted a meta-analysis to test the hypothesis that tPA improves functional outcomes compared with placebo 4.5 - 9 hours after onset in AIS patients who received advanced neuroimaging. Before getting into the study, we need to better understand the terminology and different types of neuroimaging modalities available and how they play a role in strokes.

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.

May 26, 2016

Background: Despite continued debate on the efficacy of alteplase (tPA), it currently remains one of the major interventions directed at patients presenting with acute ischemic stroke. The current standard dose of the drug is 0.9 mg/kg given over 1 hour. It is unclear whether lower doses would be equally effective in increasing good neurologic outcomes after stroke while simultaneously decreasing the rate of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH); the most serious side effect. Evidence showing that lower doses of tPA are non-inferior to standard-dose tPA could lead to a shift in treatment. 

November 9, 2015

I recently returned from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Conference which took place from Oct. 26th - 29th, 2015 in Boston, MA.  There were really a lot of amazing talks by so many amazing speakers but one lecture in particular by David Newman, of SMART EM and The NNT fame, made me realize that there is just so much research on treatment of ischemic stroke, that I can't even keep them straight.  So what I thought I would do is create an archive of all that research and continue to add to the list as more research is released.  I don't know about you, but I find myself spending lots of time looking this information up every time I need it. 

April 3, 2014

  For the most part, the biggest concern with administering tPA is the bleeding complications, specifically intracranial hemorrhage. But there is another side effect that is being reported more frequently. I, myself, saw two cases in one week. This side effect is tPA-associated angioedema. Case: A 70-year-old female with a past medical history of hypertension and diabetes presents to your department 45 minutes after onset of left facial droop, slurred speech and left-sided hemiparesis. The initial head CT is negative for acute hemorrhage. You diagnose your patient with an acute ischemic stroke. There are no contraindications, so you decide to treat the patient with tPA (we will leave this debate for another time).
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