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OBJECTIVE: To present the preliminary experience of implementing intravenous thrombolytic therapy for acute ischaemic stroke in three UK stroke centres. BACKGROUND: Recombinant tissue plasminogen activator for ischaemic stroke received approval from UK regulatory authorities in April 2003. Since 1997, a small number of UK centres had used thrombolytic therapy in highly selected stroke patients. We present the early experience of that treatment in Glasgow and Newcastle. DESIGN: Patients were selected and treated in accordance with the American Heart Association guidelines. Additionally, radiologic criteria employed in the European-Australasian Acute Stroke Studies were applied. National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores were measured on admission, and Modified Rankin Scale (MRS) scores were assessed at 3 months for all patients with stroke treated prior to initiation of the Safe Implementation of Thrombolysis in Stroke monitoring program for implementation of thrombolysis in stroke in April 2001. Intracranial and systemic haemorrhagic complications were recorded. RESULTS: 120 patients received thrombolytic treatment (approximately 1% of all admissions with presumed stroke). Mean age was 69 years (range 22-93) and initial median NIHSS score was 17 (range 3-31). In the two centres for which temporal data were available, the mean delay between symptom onset and treatment was 139 min (range 20-185). Sixteen episodes of cerebral haemorrhage or haemorrhagic transformation of any degree occurred, of which 5 (4%) were symptomatic. One patient deteriorated and died before repeat CT imaging could be performed. One non-fatal episode of systemic bleeding occurred. One patient was lost to follow-up. At 3 months, 31% of recipients had achieved good (MRS 0-1) outcome, 22% moderate (MRS 2-3) outcome and 21% (MRS 4-5) poor outcome. Twenty-one per cent died within 3 months of stroke. Observed frequency of bleeding complications and protocol violations (6%) was similar to those reported elsewhere. CONCLUSION: A small proportion of stroke patients received thrombolytic treatment. Patients treated were more severely affected than in other published European and North American series. Outcomes and complications were consistent with experience elsewhere.

Original publication




Journal article


Cerebrovasc Dis

Publication Date





438 - 442


Acute Disease, Aged, Brain Ischemia, Female, Humans, Injections, Intravenous, Male, Middle Aged, Plasminogen Activators, Prospective Studies, Recombinant Proteins, Stroke, Thrombolytic Therapy, Tissue Plasminogen Activator, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom