A randomized trial of a single bolus dosage regimen of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator in patients with acute pulmonary embolism

Chest. 1990 Dec;98(6):1473-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.98.6.1473.


Experiments in animals have demonstrated that recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) produces continuing thrombolysis after it is cleared from the circulation and that thrombolysis is both increased and accelerated, and bleeding is reduced when rt-PA is administered over a short period. In previous studies in patients with thrombotic disease, rt-PA has been shown to be an effective thrombolytic agent when administered by continuous infusion over a period between 90 minutes and 8 hours. To determine whether a short course regimen of rt-PA can achieve thrombolysis, a double-blind randomized trial has been conducted in which patients with objectively established acute symptomatic pulmonary embolism who were receiving heparin were allocated to either a 2-minute infusion of rt-PA at a dose of 0.6 mg/kg (33 patients) or saline placebo (25 patients). Perfusion lung scanning was used to assess the change in pulmonary perfusion at 24 hours and seven days post-study drug administration. Thirty-four percent of the rt-PA patients had a greater than 50 percent resolution in the perfusion defect at 24 hours compared to 12 percent of placebo patients (p = 0.026). At 24 hours, the mean relative improvement in the perfusion defect was 37.0 percent in rt-PA treated patients compared to 18.8 percent in the placebo group (p = 0.017). By day 7, no difference in lung scan resolution was detected between the groups. There were no major bleeds in either group nor were there any differences in transfusion requirements between groups. Minor bleeding occurred in 15 of the rt-PA patients mainly at angiogram-catheter insertion and venipuncture sites. These results suggest that a bolus regimen of rt-PA produces accelerated thrombolysis and provides an alternative and convenient approach to thrombolytic therapy in patients with pulmonary embolism.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Embolism / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / mortality
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Recurrence
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / adverse effects
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator