Objective: We prospectively evaluated the safety and recanalization efficacy of intra-arterially administered reteplase, a third-generation recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, for treating ischemic stroke in patients considered poor candidates for intravenously administered alteplase therapy.
Methods: Patients were considered poor candidates for intravenously administered therapy because of severity of neurological deficits, interval from onset of symptoms to presentation of 3 hours or more, or recent major surgery. We administered a maximum total dose of 8 U of reteplase intra-arterially in 1-U increments via superselective catheterization. Adjunctive angioplasty of the occluded artery was performed in seven patients. Angiographic evidence of perfusion and thrombus was graded by use of modified Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) criteria. Neurological examinations were performed before and 24 hours and 7 to 10 days after treatment.
Results: Sixteen consecutive patients were treated (mean age, 64.1 +/- 16.4 yr; seven were men). Initial National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale scores ranged from 10 to 26. Time from onset of symptoms to treatment ranged from 2 to 9 hours. Occlusion sites were the cervical internal carotid artery (n = 4), intracranial internal carotid artery (n = 4), middle cerebral artery (n = 6), and vertebrobasilar artery (n = 2). Complete or near-complete perfusion (TIMI Grade 3 or 4) was achieved in the arteries in 14 patients (88%), with partial recanalization (TIMI Grade 2) or minimal response (TIMI Grade 1) in the arteries in one patient each. Neurological improvement (defined as decrease of four or more points in National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score) was observed in 7 (44%) of the 16 patients at 24 hours. Symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage occurred in one patient; three other patients experienced intracerebral hemorrhages that did not result in neurological worsening. The overall mortality during hospitalization was 56%, related to massive ischemic stroke (n = 7), withdrawal of care at the family's request after the development of aspiration pneumonia and renal failure (n = 1), and a combination of intracerebral hemorrhage and massive ischemic stroke (n = 1).
Conclusion: In this study, intra-arterially administered reteplase in doses up to 8 U with or without angioplasty resulted in a high rate of recanalization. This strategy should be considered in treating patients considered poor candidates for intravenous thrombolysis.