What are the guidelines on intra-arterial thrombolysis for basilar artery thrombosis?

Updated: Jan 11, 2019
  • Author: Salvador Cruz-Flores, MD, MPH, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, FACP, FANA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Some general guidelines should be followed when treating a patient with IV or intra-arterial thrombolysis.

Patients with a stuttering course of longer than 3 hours and up to 12 hours should be considered for intra-arterial thrombolysis, provided that ischemic changes are not present on the CT scan. However, the care team should recognize that under these circumstances, the therapy is being offered in a compassionate fashion, given the poor prognosis of basilar artery occlusion.

Despite reports of the successful use of anticoagulation immediately following thrombolysis, avoiding systemic anticoagulation is recommended for the first 24 hours after thrombolysis, given the risk of hemorrhagic complications.

Although treatment as late as 24-48 hours after symptom onset has been reported, the authors recommend caution because of the high risk of hemorrhagic complications. Systemic anticoagulation may be an alternative for patients with contraindications for thrombolysis, although no evidence clearly indicates any beneficial effect.

With rare exceptions, patients should not be treated with thrombolysis if more than 12 hours have elapsed since the onset of more major symptoms or if they have marked ischemic changes on the CT scan, regardless of the time course.

The benefits of intra-arterial thrombolysis in selected groups of patients with basilar artery thrombosis, such as patients with minor deficit or old patients with extensive brainstem infarcts, is even less clear than for other individuals with this type of occlusion

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