Cerebral venous thrombosis: combined intrathrombus rtPA and intravenous heparin

J L Frey, G J Muro, C G McDougall, B L Dean, H K Jahnke
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 1999, 30 (3): 489-94

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: We chose to evaluate the safety and efficacy of combined intrathrombus rtPA and intravenous heparin in cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT).

METHODS: We treated 12 patients with symptoms of 1 to 40 days' duration (eg, headache, somnolence, focal deficits, seizures, and nausea and vomiting). Pretreatment MRI disclosed subtle hemorrhagic venous infarction in 4 patients, obvious hemorrhagic infarction in 2, small parenchymal hemorrhage from recent pallidotomy in 1, and no focal lesion in 5. Magnetic resonance venography and contrast venography identified thrombi in the superior sagittal sinus (SSS) in 3 patients; transverse/sigmoid sinus (TS/SS) in 2; SSS and both TS/SS in 1; SSS and 1 TS/SS in 5; and SSS, 1 TS/SS, and straight sinus in 1 patient. A loading dose of rtPA was instilled throughout the clot at 1 mg/cm, followed by continuous intrathrombus infusion at 1 to 2 mg/h. Intravenous heparin was infused concomitantly.

RESULTS: Flow was restored completely in 6 patients and partially in 3, with a mean rtPA dose of 46 mg (range, 23 to 128 mg) at a mean time of 29 hours (range, 13 to 77 hours). Symptoms improved in these 9 patients concomitantly with flow restoration. Flow could not be restored in 3 patients. In 1 of them, treatment was stopped when little progress had been made, and fibrinogen level dropped to 118 mg/dL. In the other 2 patients, hemorrhagic worsening occurred, and treatment was abbreviated after initial rtPA dosing. In 1 of these, the hematoma was evacuated.

CONCLUSIONS: Our experience with intrathrombus rtPA in conjunction with intravenous heparin in patients with CVT is encouraging. This therapy should probably be regarded as unsafe in patients with obvious hemorrhage. Time to restore flow may be faster than with urokinase (an average of 71 hours has been reported for 29 documented patients). Further evaluation of rtPA with heparin in CVT is warranted.

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