November 1st 2006
ABSTRACT: Establishing the time of symptom onset is essential to selecting the appropriate therapy. Intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), administered within 3 hours of symptom onset, is the only FDA-approved treatment for acute ischemic stroke. Intra-arterial and combined intra-arterial-intravenous thrombolytic therapy may be considered for patients whose condition does not improve or who present within 3 to 6 hours of symptom onset. Other options for treating acute ischemic stroke are balloon angioplasty with or without stenting (for symptomatic patients with more than 50% intracranial stenosis in whom medical therapy has failed) and mechanical clot retrieval (for those with an NIH Stroke Scale score greater than 10 who present after the 3-hour window for intravenous t-PA and can be treated within 8 hours of symptom onset or who present within 3 hours of symptom onset but in whom intravenous thrombolysis is contraindicated).