Variability in the use of intravenous thrombolysis for mild stroke: Experience across the SPOTRIAS network

Joshua Z. Willey, Pooja Khatri, Jane C. Khoury, José G. Merino, Andria L. Ford, Natalia S. Rost, Nicole R. Gonzales, Latisha K. Ali, Brett C. Meyer, Joseph P. Broderick

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20 Scopus citations


Background: Current guidelines do not define the lower severity threshold for thrombolysis. In this study, we describe the variability of treatment of mild stroke patients across a network of academic stroke centers. Methods: Stroke centers within the Specialized Program of Translational Research in Acute Stroke (SPOTRIAS) prospectively collect data on patients treated with intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (IV rt-PA), including demographics, pretreatment National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores, and in-hospital mortality. We examined the variability in proportion of total tissue plasminogen activator-treated patients in the NIHSS categories (0-3, 4-5, or ≥6) and associated outcomes. Results: A total of 2514 patients with reported NIHSS scores were treated with IV rt-PA between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009. The proportion of patients with mild stroke (NIHSS scores of 0-3) who were treated with IV rt-PA varied substantially across the centers (2.7-18.0%; P <.001). There were 5 deaths in the 256 treated with an NIHSS score of 0-3 (2.0%). The proportion of treated patients across the network with an NIHSS score of 0 to 3 increased from 4.8% in 2005 to 10.7% in 2009 (P =.001). Conclusions: There is substantial variability in the proportion of treated patients who have mild stroke across the SPOTRIAS centers, reflecting a paucity of data on how to best treat patients with mild stroke. Randomized trial data for this group of patients are needed to clarify the use of rt-PA in patients with the mildest strokes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-322
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • Mild stroke
  • stenosis


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