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Stroke. 1999 Oct;30(10):2230-7.

Expanding the window for thrombolytic therapy in acute stroke. The potential role of acute MRI for patient selection.

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  • 1Stanford Stroke Center, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA, USA.



Effective therapy was not available for treatment of acute stroke until 1995, when tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) was shown to improve neurological and functional outcome in stroke patients who were treated within 3 hours of symptom onset.


Currently, many patients do not qualify for tPA therapy because they present for evaluation beyond 3 hours after stroke onset. Attempts to expand the treatment window to 6 hours, using CT to select patients, have failed. Use of early MR imaging may provide significant advantages over CT for identification of patients who are likely to benefit from thrombolytic therapy because (1) the early perfusion-weighted imaging (PWI) lesion estimates the region of acute dysfunctional brain tissue, whereas the acute diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) lesion appears to correspond to the core of the early infarction; (2) the mismatch between the acute PWI lesion and the smaller DWI lesion represents potentially salvageable brain tissue (an estimate of the ischemic penumbra); and (3) in patients with a PWI/DWI mismatch, early reperfusion is often associated with substantial clinical improvement and reversal or reduction of DWI lesion growth.


Clinical trials that use new MRI techniques to screen patients may be able to identify a subset of acute stroke patients who are ideal candidates for thrombolytic therapy even beyond 3 hours after stroke onset.

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