Combined intravenous and intra-arterial r-TPA versus intra-arterial therapy of acute ischemic stroke: Emergency management of stroke (EMS) bridging trial

Christopher A. Lewandowski, Michael Frankel, Thomas A. Tomsick, Joseph Broderick, James Frey, Wayne Clark, Sidney Starkman, James Grotta, Judith Spilker, Jane Khoury, Thomas Brott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

579 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of combined intravenous (IV) and local intra-arterial (IA) recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (r-TPA) therapy for stroke within 3 hours of onset of symptoms. Methods - This was a double- blind, randomized, placebo-controlled multi-center Phase I study of IV r-TPA or IV placebo followed by immediate cerebral arteriography and local IA administration of r-TPA by means of a microcatheter. Treatment activity was assessed by improvement on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale Score (NIHSSS) at 7 to 10 days. The Barthel Index, modified Rankin Scale, and the Glasgow Outcome Scale measured 3-month functional outcome. Arterial recanalization rates and their relation to total r-TPA dose and time to lysis were measured. Rates of life-threatening bleeding, intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), or other bleeding complications assessed safety. Results - Thirty-five patients were randomly assigned, 17 into the IV/IA group and 18 into the placebo/IA group. There was no difference in the 7- to 10-day or the 3-month outcomes, although there were more deaths in the IV/IA group. Clot was found in 22 of 34 patients. Recanalization was better (P=0.03) in the IV/IA group with TIMI 3 flow in 6 of 11 IV/IA patients versus 1 of 10 placebo/IA patients and correlated to the total dose of r-TPA (P=0.05). There was no difference in the median treatment intervals from time of onset to IV treatment (2.6 vs 2.7 hours), arteriography (3.3 vs 3.0 hours), or clot lysis (6.3 vs 5.7 hours) between the IV/IA and placebo/IA groups, respectively. A direct relation between NIHSSS and the likelihood of the presence of a clot was identified. Eight ICHs occurred; all were hemorrhagic infarctions. There were no parenchymal hematomas. Symptomatic ICH within 24 hours occurred in 1 placebo/IA patient only. Beyond 24 hours, symptomatic ICH occurred in 2 IV/IA patients only. Life-threatening bleeding complications occurred in 2 patients, both in the IV/IA group. Moderate to severe bleeding complications occurred in 2 IV/IA patients and 1 placebo/IA patient. Conclusions - This pilot study demonstrates combined IV/IA treatment is feasible and provides better recanalization, although it was not associated with improved clinical outcomes. The presence of thrombus on initial arteriography was directly related to the baseline NIHSSS. This approach is technically feasible. The numbers of symptomatic ICH were similar between the 2 groups, which suggests that this approach may be safe. Further study is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of this new method of treatment. Such studies should address not only efficacy and safety but also the cost-benefit ratio and quality of life, given the major investment in time, personnel, and equipment required by combined IV and IA techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2598-2605
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Acute
  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Cerebrovascular disorders
  • Combination
  • Drug therapy
  • Stroke
  • Thrombolytic therapy
  • Tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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