To determine the IV tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment rate of patients with minor acute ischemic stroke (mAIS) at our centers and compare the frequency of MRI targets by treatment stratification and clinical severity, we evaluated clinical characteristics and baseline MRIs for tPA-treated and untreated patients.
Patients with ischemic stroke from 2015 to 2017 with admit NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS) <6 were considered. The treated cohort received standard IV tPA and was screened with baseline MRI. The untreated cohort received no acute intervention and baseline MRI was <4 hours from onset. Patients were stratified into "clearly" and "not clearly" disabling deficits by NIHSS elements. Baseline MRI was evaluated by independent raters for AIS targets, with frequencies compared between groups.
Of 255 patients with mAIS ≤4.5 hours from onset, 140 (55%) received IV tPA, accounting for 46% of all IV tPA patients (n = 305). Eighty-five percent (n = 119) were screened with baseline MRI and had significantly more frequent imaging targets compared to those untreated (n = 90). Of this treated cohort, 75% (n = 89) were not clearly disabling. Except for perfusion–diffusion mismatch (81% clearly disabling vs 56% not clearly disabling [p = 0.036]), there were no significant differences in the frequency of imaging targets across the treated cohort stratified by clinical severity.
In MRI-screened mAIS, imaging targets were more frequently seen in patients treated with IV tPA, with similar frequencies even in those without clearly disabling deficits. MRI targets could be used to guide thrombolytic therapy in patients with mAIS; however, a randomized trial is needed to demonstrate efficacy.