Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator for patients with minor ischemic stroke

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2012 Nov;21(8):732-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2011.03.009. Epub 2011 Apr 30.


Background: Patients with minor ischemic stroke (MIS) are frequently excluded from thrombolytic therapy. Denial of therapy to these patients, however, remains controversial. We compared outcomes in patients with MIS who received intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) with those who were not treated.

Methods: We selected adult patients with stroke onset within 3 hours from a prospectively collected stroke registry. MIS was defined as an admission National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score ≤ 5. The primary outcome was a 90-day modified Rankin scale (mRS) score of 0 to 1. Secondary outcomes were a Barthel index (BI) score ≥ 95 at 90 days, symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (SICH), and death. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to determine the association between outcomes adjusting for age, history of diabetes, and NIHSS score at admission. Reasons for t-PA exclusion were obtained.

Results: We identified 133 patients with MIS; 59 patients received IV t-PA. The NIHSS score (mean ± SD) at admission was higher in the t-PA treated group (3.4 ± 1.4 v 1.9 ± 1.3 in the untreated group; P < .0001). Other baseline characteristics were not significantly different between the 2 groups. At 90 days, 57.6% of patients in the t-PA group and 68.9% of patients in the untreated group had a mRS score of 0 to 1 (odds ratio [OR] 0.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.39-2.2; P = .87). A BI score of 95 to 100 was achieved in 75% of patients in the IV t-PA group versus 78.9% in the untreated group (OR 1.18, 95% CI 0.43-3.23; P = .74). There were 3 deaths (5.1%) in the IV t-PA group and 3 deaths (4.1%) in the control group.

Conclusions: In our sample, patients with MIS treated with IV t-PA have similar outcomes as patients not receiving thrombolysis. A randomized trial or larger observational study is needed confirm or reject these findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / mortality
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages / chemically induced
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator