Posts Tagged ‘thrombolysis vs primary pci’

How do you evaluate the success of thrombolysis or primary PCI  ?

If you say its coronary angiogram and the final snapshot  of  TIMI flow , you need to read further. If you thought its actually the quantum of ECG ST regression . . . great ,  you can exit this page  with credits.

CAG  may not be the gold standard in defining PCI success , it just tells you whether IRA is patent or not .Instead , the good old ECG tells you about whether  the myocardium is successfully reperfused or not .  TIMI flows are simply not good enough to identify  adequacy of  myocardial reperfusion .

By the way ,  who is telling this  ?


It appears there is only a  narrow gap between Ignorance and Knowledge !

That’s what the simple message I got  from this landmark study  published in year the 2000 in JACC by Shah.A in the thrombolytic era.The Importance of this paper  has far reaching consequences (If and only if we are  willing to accept and  understand  the concept and apply  as a whole in PCI era )

While success of thrombolysis is faith fully subjected to  the acid tests  of myocardial perfusion , primary PCI is rarely ever assessed in terms of  ST segment regression.

What is the next logical step this study should lead  us to ?  

I think I am not provocating  , . . How to  get rid of the prevailing practice of jacking up the success rate of primary PCI  ? ( Conveniently,  Ignoring the echo detected significant LV dysfunction on follow up ) Mind you, this has resulted in  creating a new crop of patient sub group called  “Angiographic success and myocardial failure”


Dear colleagues , please go thorough this article . Its from the thought leaders , Duke University ,North Carolina. I would argue the cardiology fellows to discuss this paper in detail in their  journal club as “classic paper”  till they  completely understand the conclusion .Though its  done with GUSTO 1 data  in primarily  lytic population,  its  conclusions are very much valid as an assessment tool  in reperfusion by any means.I am afraid, even 16  years after this paper  got published ,the truth has not penetrated to the targeted population within the cardiology community.

Prognostic implications of TIMI flow grade in the infarct related artery compared with continuous 12-lead ST-segment resolution analysis. Reexamining the “gold standard” for myocardial reperfusion assessment. Shah A1, Wagner GS, Granger CB, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000 Mar 1;35(3):666-72.

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In the management of STEMI , many  of us  believe  , contraindication  exists only for thrombolysis . In fact  , there is  a big list  of contra’s for primary PCI as well  . Few  books mention about it and  few discuss about it  . It comes under many broad categories .Time , technical, patient  and  concept  related

  • Late presentation > 12 hours (This is the most important  contraindication  . 12 h is the time taken for  death of  myocytes . Myocardium will not  bother by which modality it is going to be rescued ! It simply  won’t give any  grace time  and never feel privileged to be rescued by PCI !)  The supposedly time independent beneficial effects of PCI  was  never proved convincingly !
  • Uncomplicated , fully evolved, spontaneously re-perfused   ( successful  )  STEMI  (At-least  10 % of STEMI population  ) . This is  common in RCA STEMI .
  • Primary PCI  should not be done in  low volume centers with poor expertise  ( less than  2 -3 per month ?)
  • Lack of sufficient hardware .
  • Co-Morbid conditions
  • Very elderly ( Controversial … some may call it as an  absolute  indication ! Such is the status of EBM in 21st century !)
  • Any recent bleeding conditions carry equal risk as that of thrombolysis

The list of relative contradictions  that are  widely reported in literature  for thromolysis may apply in PCI as well .The risk of bleeding is many fold higher when  multiple anti-platelet agent /Heparin are used .The usage of 2b -3a is also rampant in many centers .  A recent hemorrhagic  stroke is  an absolute contraindication  for PCI as well.(If only you do a PCI without anti-platelet  agents).With number of complex anti-thrombotic drugs knocking the d0ors of cath lab , the problem is set to grow further.

Final message

Never underestimate the  potential  peri -procedural bleeding risk during PCI  .It can easily  exceed that of a thrombolytic agent  in susceptible individuals !

Primary PCI is a great innovation and is a gift  of modern science to human race . But , when  selecting the patients  ,  many of us  continue to interpret  this issue  wrongly. We seem to think , in a given patient  , if  thrombolysis is contraindicated  ,  he or she will automatically become eligible for  primary  PCI It is a dangerous assumption and  is rarely true  . There are umpteen number of situations were both are contraindicated . I  argue the  intervention community to publish specific guidelines with absolute and relative contraindication  for primary  PCI as well .

After thought

If  a patient is not eligible for both thrombolysis  as well as PCI what to do ?  Is it not a crime to watch a patient with STEMI simply losing his myocytes ?

It may seem so  , when we look at  superficially   but  be reminded even simple heparin therapy has saved many lives in such a situations .

Link to related You tube video


That  elusive  uncommon  sense

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Primary PCI  has proven to be the   best  option for management of STEMI . But it need to be  done very early by a an experienced team in a good facility . (Note ,  it is not the individual expertise that matters !  Ronalodo alone can never guarantee a   match win  !  )

Any treatment ,  which has a great therapeutic potential also  carries a hazard .

So , these treatment must be used with caution.  Not every STEMI patient , has a high risk of death.  In fact the mortality  in some of the subsets of STEMI ,  can be less than 1%. If , a  STEMI patient with a likely 1% mortality   is going to get a procedure with  3-4% ,  risk it is bound to raise a  validity  question ?


What are the situations in  STEMI , where primary  PCI could be dangerous*?

* The  term dangerous here  means ,  Risk > Benefit .

Side vessel STEMI : STEMI in  branch coronary arteries. Main vessel STEMI(LAD,RCA,LCX ) has higher risk than side vessel STEMI( Diagonals, OMs, Septal) .

Side vessel  STEMI is not easy to diagnose in ECG ,  but an MI with ST elvation restricted to  only  2 leads  could be a side vessel STEMI.

The following could be some examples.

  • 1 /AVL , High lateral
  • V2 V3 ,   Septal
  • 3 AVF ,  PDA/RV/ Acute  marginal
  • V5 V6     OMs/Ramus

A spontaneously evolving  STEMI , with  ST segment   returning   towards  baseline  and T wave  getting inverted .This indicates IRA is either partially patent and  the coronary blood flow is in the salvage mode. Here , thrombolysis is going to be very effective .

Final message

In the management of  STEMI  , primary PCI could be  consciously avoided in some of the patients   to improve the overall outcome .

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