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A 1995 National Institute of Neurological Disorders (NINDS) study found benefit for intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in acute ischemic stroke (AIS). The symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (SICH) rate in the NINDS study was 6.4%, which may be deterring some physicians from using this medication.
Starting December 1, 1998, patients with AIS in London, Ontario were treated according to NINDS criteria with one major exception; those with approximately greater than one-third involvement of the idealized middle cerebral artery (MCA) territory on neuroimaging were excluded from treatment. The method used to estimate involvement of one-third MCA territory involvement bears the acronym ICE and had a median kappa value of 0.80 among five physicians. Outcomes were compared to the NINDS study.
Between December 1, 1998 and February 1, 2000, 30 patients were treated. Compared to the NINDS study, more London patients were treated after 90 minutes (p<0.00001) and tended to be older. No SICH was observed. Compared to the treated arm of the NINDS trial, fewer London patients were dead or severely disabled at three months (p=0.04). Compared to the placebo arm of the trial, more patients made a partial recovery at 24 hours (p=0.02), more had normal outcomes (p=0.03) and fewer were dead or severely disabled at three months (p=0.004).
The results of the NINDS study were closely replicated and, in some instances, improved upon in this small series of Canadian patients, despite older age and later treatment. These findings suggest that imaging exclusion criteria may optimize the benefits of tPA.
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