Despite significant progress in stroke prevention and its acute treatment, stroke remains the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult morbidity worldwide. By defining "stroke symptom onset" in the most conservative manner, namely the time the patient was last seen well, many patients whose onset is unwitnessed are automatically ineligible for thrombolytic therapy even if their true time of onset would allow them to qualify. If a technique existed that could replace the human witness and testify that the stroke was in fact less than 3.5 hours duration, then these patients could be considered for alteplase treatment under current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines, and be treated if eligible according to the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Many stroke patients are rapidly brought to the hospital within 3 hours of the time of symptom discovery, but FDA indications exclude them from consideration for intravenous alteplase if it has been greater than 3 hours since the time they were last known to be well. We propose to use advanced MR imaging as the "witness" to testify as to stroke duration in those patients who do not have a human witness in an open label Phase Ha safety study of thrombolysis in these patients. We have modeled the other eligibility criteria after the ECASS3 trial design and the current AHA guidelines in order to limit the variable of interest to the use of MR as the determinant of time of stroke onset. We will exclude patients from the study who arrive within 3 hours from last seen well since these patients are eligible for on-label treatment with thrombolysis. Because the study is open-label and investigators are unblinded, we will use the more conservative ECASS-2 definition of symptomatic ICH. This is defined as any hemorrhage with neurologic deterioration, as indicated by an NIHSS score that was higher by 4 points or more than the value at baseline or the lowest value in the first 7 days, or any hemorrhage leading to death, and does not require that the ICH be classified as causally linked to the neurologic deterioration. If our study is successful, we can potentially expand use of lyrics to a stroke patient population for whom little acute intervention is currently offered.

Public Health Relevance

Stroke is a leading cause of death and morbidity in the US. Thrombolysis is approved by the FDA for treatment within 180 minutes from when a patient was last seen well. Approximately 25% of stroke patients have unwitnessed onset times. This study seeks to expand IV thrombolysis to these patients using neuroimaging as the witness to establish the stroke duration when a human witness is unavailable.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1-SRB-R)
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Massachusetts General Hospital
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