Microbubble administration accelerates clot lysis during continuous 2-MHz ultrasound monitoring in stroke patients treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator

Carlos A Molina, Marc Ribo, Marta Rubiera, Joan Montaner, Esteban Santamarina, Raquel Delgado-Mederos, Juan F Arenillas, Rafael Huertas, Francisco Purroy, Pilar Delgado, José Alvarez-Sabín
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2006, 37 (2): 425-9

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: We sought to evaluate the effects of administration of microbubbles (MBs) on the beginning, speed, and degree of middle cerebral artery (MCA) recanalization during systemic thrombolysis and continuous 2-MHz pulsed-wave transcranial Doppler (TCD) monitoring.

METHODS: We evaluated 111 patients with acute stroke attributable to MCA occlusion treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). Thirty-eight patients were treated with tPA plus continuous 2-hour TCD monitoring plus 3 doses of 2.5 g (400 mg/mL) of galactose-based MBs given at 2, 20, and 40 minutes after tPA bolus (MB group). These patients were compared with 73 patients who were allocated to receive tPA plus continuous 2-hour TCD ultrasound (US) monitoring (tPA/US group) or tPA plus placebo monitoring (tPA group), most of whom were enrolled in a previous study of US-enhanced thrombolysis. The beginning, degree, and time to maximum completeness of recanalization during the first 2 hours of tPA bolus were recorded.

RESULTS: Median prebolus National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was 18. Eighty patients (72%) had a proximal and 31 (28%) a distal MCA occlusion on TCD. Thirty-seven patients (33%) received tPA/US, 38 (34%) received tPA/US/MB, and 36 (32%) were treated with tPA alone. Stroke severity, time to treatment, location of MCA occlusion, and presence of carotid artery disease were similar among groups. Two-hour recanalization was seen in 14 (39%), 25 (68%), and 27 patients (71%) in the tPA, tPA/US, and tPA/US/MB groups, respectively (P=0.004). Two-hour complete recanalization rate was significantly (P=0.038) higher in the tPA/US/MB group (54.5%) compared with tPA/US (40.8%) and tPA (23.9%) groups. The time to beginning of recanalization after tPA bolus was 26+/-18 minutes in the tPA/US group and 19+/-12 minutes in the tPA/US/MB group (P=0.12). Four patients (3.6%) experienced symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage: 2 (5.5%), 1 (2.7%), and 1 patient (2.6%) who received tPA only, tPA/US, and tPA/US/MB, respectively, experienced symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage. At 24 hours, 31%, 41%, and 55% of tPA, tPA/US, and tPA/US/MB improved >4 points in the NIHSS score.

CONCLUSIONS: Administration of MBs induces further acceleration of US-enhanced thrombolysis in acute stroke, leading to a more complete recanalization and to a trend toward better short- and long-term outcome.

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