Critical care needs in patients with diffusion- weighted imaging negative MRI after tPA -does one size fit all?

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Background and Purpose Patients who receive intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) for ischemic stroke are currently monitored in an intensive care unit (ICU) or a comparable stroke unit for at least 24 hours due to the high frequency of neurological exams and vital sign checks. The present study evaluates ICU needs in patients with diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) negative MRI after IV tPA. Methods A retrospective chart review was performed for 209 patients who received IV tPA for acute stroke. Data on stroke risk factors, physiologic parameters, stroke severity, MRI characteristics, and final diagnosis were collected. The timing and nature of ICU interventions, if needed, was recorded. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with subsequent ICU needs. Results Patients with cerebral infarct on MRI after tPA had over 9 times higher odds of requiring ICU care compared to patients with DWI negative MRI (OR 9.2, 95% CI 2.49-34.15). All DWI negative patients requiring ICU care did so by the end of tPA infusion (p = 0.006). Among patients with DWI negative MRI, need for ICU interventions was associated with higher NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores (p<0.001), uncontrolled hypertension (p<0.001), seizure at onset (p = 0.002), and reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) (p = 0.010). Conclusions Only a small number of DWI negative patients required ICU care. In patients without critical care needs by the end of thrombolysis, post-tPA MRI may be considered for triaging DWI negative patients to a less resource intense monitoring environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0141204
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 30 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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