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Stroke. 2010 May;41(5):932-7. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.574335. Epub 2010 Apr 1.

Efficacy of intra-arterial fibrinolysis for acute ischemic stroke: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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  • 1Stroke Center and Department of Neurology, Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.



Although intra-arterial (IA) fibrinolysis for acute ischemic stroke has been clinically available for many years, it is not a therapy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Single, randomized, clinical trials (RCTs) have suggested beneficial effects, but no single RCT has demonstrated that IA fibrinolysis yields increases in both good (modified Rankin Scale score 0 to 2) and excellent (modified Rankin Scale score 0 to 1) outcomes when compared with the control group. Relatively few participants and inadequate statistical power in single RCTs may have contributed to this difficulty. Method- We performed a systematic literature search to identified RCTs of IA fibrinolysis in acute ischemic stroke. Multiple outcomes were analyzed, with emphasis on good and excellent outcomes at 90 days or at trial end point.


The systematic search identified 5 RCTs with 395 participants comparing IA fibrinolysis and control. IA fibrinolysis was associated with increased good (odds ratio=2.05; 95% CI, 1.33 to 3.14; P=0.001) and excellent (odds ratio=2.14; 95% CI, 1.31 to 3.51; P=0.003) outcomes. For additional end points, IA fibrinolysis was associated with increased frequencies of minimal neurologic deficit (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score 0 to 1), minimal impairment of activities of daily living (Barthel Index 90 to 100 or 95 to 100), and recanalization. IA fibrinolysis was associated with increased radiological and symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage. However, there was no difference in mortality between groups.


Formal meta-analysis suggests that IA fibrinolysis substantially increases recanalization rates and good and excellent clinical outcomes in acute ischemic stroke. Increased hemorrhage frequencies are not associated with any increase in mortality.

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