What is the efficacy of thrombolytic therapy for vertebrobasilar stroke?

Updated: Aug 09, 2021
  • Author: Vladimir Kaye, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
  • Print


In the early 1980s, Nenci and colleagues reported the first 4 cases of local thrombolysis for vertebrobasilar occlusion, establishing a trend to treat patients with intra-arterial thrombolysis. [19, 42] To date, several case series have been published. The average time to treatment has ranged from 8-48 hours. Overall mortality has decreased from 46-75% to 26-60%. The patient's condition at presentation appears to be the major prognostic factor; patients with quadriplegia and/or coma have demonstrated the least favorable outcomes. Despite the above efforts, intra-arterial thrombolysis for vertebrobasilar occlusion has not been studied systematically in randomized, controlled trials.

Of the different agents currently used for thrombolysis (urokinase, prourokinase, streptokinase, tPA), prourokinase and tPA seem to have more selectivity for thrombi. Streptokinase has not been used for stroke since the multicenter European and Australian trials documented a greater mortality in the treated patients. Because of concerns with its production, urokinase is not currently available in the United States.

Prourokinase was tested in a prospective, randomized fashion, including only patients with middle cerebral artery stem occlusion. Results showed a better outcome in treated patients, but prourokinase has not been approved for use in acute stroke.

At this time, the only viable option for thrombolysis in the United States continues to be tPA. This drug has been studied prospectively in trials involving combined intravenous and intra-arterial therapy, in doses of 0.3 mg/kg, with a maximum of 10-20 mg. Limited experience with the use of GPIIb/IIIa inhibitors, such as abciximab, to block the platelet function and rethrombosis has shown an overall reocclusion rate of approximately 30%.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!