Archive for the ‘Thrombolysis’ Category

It was 1912 , Titanic had just sank off the Atlantic . When the world attention was elsewhere , An unassuming young Dr.Herrick J.B silently working in his Michigan lab inquisitively proposed thrombus occluding the coronary artery is the chief culprit in acute myocardial Infarction.It took seven more decades when Davis et all from Glasgow .UK. proved it by doing dramatic angiographic studies soon after STEMI in year 1979.

Now, even after 100 years , we, the confused cardiologists debate endlessly in glamorous global conclaves in exotic locales whether to aspirate these humble looking thrombus, threatening to damage the myocardium with every passing moment !

Why is this controversy ?

My answer

I am failing to understand the concept and the answer is elusive .While every one agrees that thrombus is true culprit, in bulk of the STEMI , still we are not authorised (In an assertive fashion ) either to lyse as first choice or to aspirate as second choice.

It seems vital, thrombus must be tackled vigorously by any means. Drugs,lytics,(Intravenous or Intra-coronary.) by micro and rheolytic catheters .Only documented, flow limiting complex mechanical lesions must be stented. If we are convinced tackling thrombus by mechanical means is problematic (As studies would suggest ) lysis should prevail over aspiration as a routine measure by default isn’t ?

*It’s a been quite a while , the world cardiology community has made it appear thrombolysing a patient who is otherwise eligible for primary PCI ! a “coronary crime*” Ofcourse , I must say , I proudly commit that crime with rewarding results in many MI patients.

*In fact , I would think not promoting or delaying prompt lysis should qualify for the definition.

In the management of STEMI, prehospital lysis followed by a Intensive care in a good coronary care center is best modality.

This doesn’t mean in-hospital lysis is banished. Yes, STEMI is a cardiac emergency , but triaging STEMI patients must be done by scientific means (STEMI risk score) as well with accumulated wisdom .Rush only true emergencies into cath lab. (A best estimate is about 20 % of all STEMI) If we are not able to decide which STEMI will require prompt PCI , it would Imply we need to go back and do once more the basics postings in coronary care of resident days !

An angry counter from a young Interventionist

Only God can tell whether a given patient with STEMI will (or will not) derive maximum benefit from pPCI. We are not yet trained to make that decision by looking at patient and his ECG.So my logic is all STEMIs are equal. I will continue to do emergency angioplasty in all STEMI patients . I expect them blindly to accept all the potential complications arising out of poking the thrombotic milieu in those low risk patients who might have done well with thrombolysis.

Never afraid of challenges. It is like going to war. Casualties are bound to happen.We have enough technology , Imaging , expertise, to tackle all those complex lesions we encounter during primary PCI especially in elderly comorbid patients. We can even do a triple vessel angioplasty , left main etc. Only Yesterday I posted in my nonstop whatsapp group , where I did a dramatic acute angled bifurcation angioplasty for a stable STEMI patient that required a iFR guided jailed side branch assessment and 3d OCT transmitting stunning snaps of fresh thrombus, ending with a semi culotte procedure.The patient is doing well with a Impella 2.5 device and a high frequency ventilator support and my anesthetist has promised me to wean him soon ! I must actually thank his Glo-Health plus Insurance company for clearing the procedure.

An Important tip for complex lesions during STEMI

We need to know there is always a saving grace , if for some reason we couldn’t accomplish PCI due to complexities of the lesion with multiple IRA mimickers. We can always sheepishly thrombolyse these patients inside cath lab . . . a modality just few minutes ago would have been ridiculed with all our vigor to convince the anxious family for a costly Invasive procedure !


3. Herrick Original paper . https://jamanetwork.com/

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Many  readers  of this site might have wondered  , about a  series of biased articles  pulling down the  superiority of pPCI in STEMI.

This  French  study (FAST-MI) throws stunning data  from the real world. Initial Fibrinolysis* defeated pPCI in all aspects of coronary reperfusion !

FAST MI primary PCI  trialFAST MI primary PCI  trial 2

*When we say fibrinolysis arm it means Pharmaco -Invasive approach .Today our  brain  is irreversibly conditioned to believe standalone fibrinolysis is  forbidden in STEMI . (Which I strongly disagree!) I am sure, very soon another stunning study will unmask the truth about standalone fibrinolysis  as well !

Final message

  • The truth  is ,  pPCI is really a superior  modality in some of the complicated  subsets of STEMI that too if performed fast.
  • In all other situations Initial fibrinolysis will rule supreme !
  • pPCI is not an Innovation for mass consumption!
  • Hence, “the roof top call” for  pPCI for every STEMI is nether desirable nor feasible.

Now, we have this evidence from France (Which was well known to us a decade ago) As always , truth takes time to arrive , while falsehood can come instantly !


In 2014 , after two decades of celebration of pPCI  the flagship Circulation journal  throws this Editorial !

primary pci vs thromolysis debate fast study




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We know  streptokinase  is a non fibrin specific   agent that   results in systemic lytic state and hence more chance of bleeding.

TPA is fibrin specific  and it  will act only on fibrin  bound to clot , hence systemic bleeding risk should be less.

However , in real world , it is well  documented  stroke risk with TPA is consistently more than streptokinase .(It varies between .0.3-.5% with streptokinase , 0.7-to 1%  with TPA)

How do you explain this apparent  paradox ?

Possible explanations.

  1. The fibrin selectivity pf TPA is not absolute* .
  2. The lytic power of  TPA is more hence stroke is more likely.
  3. The FDP* released by TPA can trigger a systemic lytic state
  4. In the  post TPA protocol   heparin  is  mandatory and  this  contribute to stroke risk.

*What happens o fibrin degradation products (FDP) levels after TPA ?

FDP levels do increase after TPA  .This peaks at 1 hour after lysis.it Correlates well with risk of stroke.(Ho CH, Wang infarction.Thrombosis Research ).


This is an excellent review with analysis from 14 studies with total of 142 907 patients with thrombolysis

A meta  analysis of thrombolytic agents streptokinase vs tpa tnktpa  stroke risk fibrin slectivity

Ho CH, Wang SP Serial thrombolysis-related changes after thrombolytic therapy with TPA in patients with acute myocardial infarction.Thrombosis Research

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Pharmaco Invasive approach (PIA)  is the new mantra in the management of ACS.It simply means the intention to do PCI   should always  be the  driving force in every STEMI patient , whether the Initial lysis is successful or failed .

This concept is exclusively created  for centers where there is no cath lab (This would include  hospitals  with  inactive labs ,  cardiologist  team  who lack required expertise !)

What to do after lysis ?

  • If  the initial lysis has failed  “Rush” them  for an emergency  PCI.
  • If  Initial lysis is successful  “Send”  them for PCI in a  less emergent manner.

Generally the  time window for PIA is 3-24 hours.  In failed lysis  technically it could be as early as 1 hour as that is the time to assess the efficacy of initial lysis. (Of-course the theoretical transfer  time to be added )

Why the 3 hour period for PIA ?

We know routine   facilitated-PCI(f-PCI)  with various combinations of  fibrinolytics  and 2b -3a antagonists is a failed concept. (FINNESS )

One of  the primary reason for f-PCI to fail is , the  very narrow time window  between drug and balloon which somehow  end up in more hazard  (Needle -Balloon window)  .

If they are very close the harm is likely to be more ,still they have to be closer if lysis has failed .(This is the reason many old studies had depressing results with even with the  concept  of rescue PCI !)

Lytic agents and PCI  even though we assume to compliment each other real world evidence indicate they share a love hate relationship .


Beware, PIA is one form of facilitated  PCI.

If we agree routine  f-PCI is a failed concept we are in for real trouble. PIA indeed may  masquerade as f-PCI  if  you combine lytic and PCI in sequential fashion in a hurry !

My point of view is is a  successfully lysed STEMI should not be rushed to cath lab .If  he  some how reach the  cath lab ultra fast manner , it behaves like a  f-PCI and he is going  to harmed more !  by the current evidence base  isn’t ?

If the  inital lysis was successful , with a  less complex anatomy, it is  possible your PCI  that is going make the lesion more vulnerable.

(The other  issue is tied with flawed human instinct. One can’t stop with CAG in a PIA* .Interventional  cardiologists rarely have the courage to leave a well recannalised IRA  without PCI.)

**Still , you need to facilitate the PCI in complex intervention in  true rescue situation.That’s were we require the collective wisdom.

Assumptions galore in ACS

We have difficulty in  identifying true success and failure of lysis .Vagueness with which we make decisions  in CCUs and cath labs  , is exemplified by the following facts. Post thrombolysis , 40%  patients with persistent ST elevation are asymptomatic and 30 % of all those with complete  ST regression , still have occluded IRA.

We are also uncertain when do  the muscle  truly  die after a STEMI ! It is 6 hours in some, 12 in many, 24h  in few , 36 h in a lucky ones .The role  of collaterals, intermittent patency , individual variation  resistance to myocardial hypoxia injury cannot be  be quantified .

Final message

  • The importance of Needle to Balloon  time (NBT) time in PIA  is to be strongly emphasized.
  • This time can vary between 1-24 hours .But practically it will start from 3 hours .
  • The irony is , we have conflicting  engagement with time in PIA. We have to  strive for both narrowing as well as intentionally  prolonging this time window .
  • It has to be narrowed in true rescue situations and   optimally prolonged (Or is it indefinitely ! ) in non rescue situations !

After thought

Can we do pharmaco-Invasive approach(PIA)  in PCI capable center ?

  • Even in PCI capable centre one may get struck in proceeding with anticipated primary PCI for various reasons . If delay is anticipated we  have to fall back on thrombolysis .This we call as  unscheduled  or bail out  phamaco Invasive strategy .
  • Intentional PIA   in a PCI capable hospital for all low risk MI is also a viable and option .Never think  primary lysis   for STEMI  even if we  have lab ready is serious medial crime . After all , pPCI has a very  marginal benefits in if any in all low risk STEMI!

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