High Rate of Complete Recanalization and Dramatic Clinical Recovery During tPA Infusion When Continuously Monitored With 2-MHz Transcranial Doppler Monitoring

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thrombolysis, outcome, stroke, acute, ultrasonography, Doppler, transcranial


Background and Purpose—Clot dissolution with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can lead to early clinical recovery after stroke. Transcranial Doppler (TCD) with low MHz frequency can determine arterial occlusion and monitor recanalization and may potentiate thrombolysis.

Methods—Stroke patients receiving intravenous tPA were monitored during infusion with portable TCD (Multigon 500M; DWL MultiDop-T) and headframe (Marc series; Spencer Technologies). Residual flow signals were obtained from the clot location identified by TCD. National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores were obtained before and after tPA infusion.

Results—Forty patients were studied (mean age 70±16 years, baseline NIHSS score 18.6±6.2, tPA bolus at 132±54 minutes from symptom onset). TCD monitoring started at 125±52 minutes and continued for the duration of tPA infusion. The middle cerebral artery was occluded in 30 patients, the internal carotid artery was occluded in 11 patients, the basilar artery was occluded in 3 patients, and occlusions were multiple in 7 patients; 4 patients had no windows; and 1 patient had a normal TCD. Recanalization on TCD was found at 45±20 minutes after tPA bolus: recanalization was complete in 12 (30%) and partial in 16 (40%) patients. Dramatic recovery during tPA infusion (total NIHSS score <3) occurred in 8 (20%) of all patients (baseline NIHSS range 6 to 22; all 8 had complete recanalization). Lack of improvement or worsening was associated with no recanalization, late recanalization, or reocclusion on TCD (C=0.811, P≤0.01). Improvement by ≥10 NIHSS points or complete recovery was found in 30% of all patients at the end of tPA infusion and in 40% at 24 hours. Improvement by ≥4 NIHSS points was found in 62.5% of patients at 24 hours.

Conclusions—Dramatic recovery during tPA therapy occurred in 20% of all patients when infusion was continuously monitored with TCD. Recovery was associated with recanalization on TCD, whereas no early improvement indicated persistent occlusion or reocclusion. At 24 hours, 40% of all patients improved by ≥10 NIHSS points or recovered completely. Ultrasonic energy transmission by TCD monitoring may expose more clot surface to tPA and facilitate thrombolysis and deserves a controlled trial as a way to potentiate the effect of tPA therapy.

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Stroke, v. 31, issue 3, p. 610-614

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