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Orthopedics. 2013 May;36(5):e676-8. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20130426-35.

Reversal of acute ischemic stroke after THA using tissue plasminogen activator.

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Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California 92037 , USA.


Acute ischemic stroke is a potentially catastrophic medical emergency. Recently, successful reversal of the neurologic deficits associated with major ischemic strokes has been accomplished in selected patients through the use of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an agent that can accomplish thrombolysis of arterial clots if given within the first few hours after the onset of stroke. Because tPA works by thrombolysis of fresh clots, a potential exists for catastrophic hemorrhage if given to acute postoperative patients. Therefore, the use of tPA has never been studied in postoperative patients, and the safety of the drug in postoperative patients is unknown.The author describes a patient who had an acute ischemic stroke 2 days after total hip arthroplasty who was successfully treated with tPA without major complications. The patient was 51 years old and developed progressive facial droop, right arm paralysis, and dysarthria 2 days after elective hip arthroplasty. Imaging confirmed occlusion of the left middle cerebral artery. Neurologic recovery was believed to be unlikely without tPA. After tPA administration, the patient had full neurologic recovery within minutes but did develop a large (nondraining) hematoma and severe ecchymosis at the surgical site; a drop in hematocrit required 3 units of packed red blood cell transfusion. The wound did not develop skin necrosis, infection, or compartment syndrome, and the hematoma resolved within several weeks without the need for surgical intervention.The author describes the patient's specific circumstances, the decision-making process behind the use of tPA, and the need for contingency plans in the event that severe uncontrolled hemorrhage occurs. This information may be useful if other surgeons are faced with the dilemma of a major stroke in acute postoperative patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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