Intraarterial thrombolytic therapy within 3 hours of the onset of stroke

Neurosurgery. 2004 Jan;54(1):39-44; discussion 44-6. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000097197.61376.05.


Objective: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Recombinant Tissue Plasminogen Activator Stroke Study Group showed that recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) administered intravenously within 3 hours of the onset of ischemic stroke can improve clinical outcome. Intraarterial (IA) thrombolysis has been shown to offer advantages over intravenous (IV) thrombolysis, but experience with this type of therapy within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms has not been reported previously. This study is the first retrospective analysis of a two-institution experience with IA thrombolysis within 3 hours of stroke onset.

Methods: A total of 36 patients with angiographically demonstrated occlusions were treated with urokinase or rt-PA within 3 hours of stroke onset. Outcome measures included the percentage of patients with no or minimal neurological disability at 30 to 90 days as measured by the modified Rankin Scale, percentage recanalization, incidence of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, and mortality rate. The results were compared with those of the NINDS rt-PA study.

Results: The median admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score was 14. Fifty percent of treated patients had a modified Rankin Scale score of 0 or 1 indicating no or little disability at 1 to 3 months compared with 39% of treated patients in the NINDS trial. Recanalization was 75%, symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage was 11% (versus 6.4% with IV rt-PA in the NINDS trial), and the mortality rate was 22% (versus 17% with IV rt-PA in the NINDS trial).

Conclusion: The results suggest that IA thrombolysis administered within 3 hours of stroke onset is a feasible and viable alternative to IV rt-PA on the basis of improved clinical outcomes, high recanalization percentage, and comparable mortality rate and despite increased symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage. Whether IA thrombolysis is superior to IV therapy awaits further study.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Angiography
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intra-Arterial
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasminogen Activators / administration & dosage*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*


  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator