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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 1993 Jan-Feb;14(1):3-13.

Neuroradiologic evaluation of patients with acute stroke treated with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator. The rt-PA Acute Stroke Study Group.

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Departments of Radiology, New England Medical Center Hospitals, Boston, MA 02111.



1) To describe the effectiveness and safety of thrombolytic therapy in patients with acute atherothrombotic and embolic stroke and 2) to study the variables of the occlusion site as seen on the angiograms, the CT signs of early ischemia, the hyperdense middle cerebral artery sign (HMCAS), and the size of the infarcts as seen on the 24-hour CT scan.


Ninety-three of 139 patients with acute stroke were treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA). The initial disease and the effects of treatment were assessed with both CT and cerebral angiography.


Recanalization of occluded arteries occurred in 32 patients and was more frequent in distal occlusions. In general, patients displaying recanalization tended to develop small infarcts and patients with a HMCAS tended to develop large infarcts. Patients with signs of early ischemia developed large infarcts. The presence of a HMCAS was 100% fic for an occluded artery, but only 27% sensitive. Hemorrhagic transformations occurred in the distribution of the occluded arteries in 32 patients.


Emergency cerebral angiography, which can be carried out relatively safely, adds important information about the nature and extent of the arterial occlusions, and the recanalization efficacy of fibrinolytic therapy for patients with acute stroke. Fibrinolytic therapy can be carried out with a relatively low complication rate that still needs to be correlated with the clinical benefits of the treatment. Fibrinolytic therapy in the doses utilized in this study, is more effective with distal than with proximal carotid territory occlusions.

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