Prehospital fibrinolysis versus primary percutaneous coronary intervention in ST-elevation myocardial infarction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Crit Care. 2016 Nov 5;20(1):359. doi: 10.1186/s13054-016-1530-z.


Background: Primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PPCI) is the preferred reperfusion strategy in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), but its benefit over prehospital fibrinolysis (FL) is not clear.

Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in which outcomes of patients with STEMI managed with FL early in the prehospital setting versus PPCI were compared.

Results: Compared with PPCI, FL was consistently associated with similar rates of short-term (30-90 days) death (relative risk [RR] 0.94, 95 % CI 0.67-1.31) and cardiovascular death (RR 0.95, 95 % CI 0.64-1.4), a decreased risk of cardiogenic shock (RR 0.67, 95 % CI 0.48-0.95), and an increased risk of any stroke (RR 3.57, 95 % CI 1.39-9.17) and hemorrhagic stroke (RR 4.37, 95 % CI 1.25-15.26). FL was also associated with similar rates of 1-year mortality (RR 1.01, 95 % CI 0.75-1.34) and major bleeding (RR 1.31, 95 % CI 0.96-1.78) in comparison with PPCI, but with a notable level (I 2 index 30.5 % and 59.8 %) of heterogeneity among studies.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that, compared with PPCI, FL performed in the early prehospital setting is associated with similar mortality rates, lower rates of cardiogenic shock, and higher rates of stroke in patients with STEMI. Although the number of studies comparing the two strategies is relatively low, our results support prehospital FL and transfer to hub percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) centers as a valid alternative to PPCI, allowing potential limitation of resources allocated to developing proximity 24/7 PCI facilities.

Keywords: Fibrinolysis; Mortality; Prehospital; Primary percutaneous coronary intervention; Stroke.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / trends
  • Fibrinolysis / drug effects
  • Fibrinolysis / physiology
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Mortality / trends
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention / methods*
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention / mortality
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention / trends
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents