Absolute and Relative Contraindications to IV rt-PA for Acute Ischemic Stroke

Jennifer E. Fugate, Alejandro A. Rabinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Most of the contraindications to the administration of intravenous (IV) recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) originated as exclusion criteria in major stroke trials. These were derived from expert consensus for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) trial. Despite the fact that the safety and efficacy of IV rtPA has been repeatedly confirmed in large international observational studies over the past 20 years, most patients with acute ischemic stroke disappointingly still do not receive thrombolytic treatment. Some of the original exclusion criteria have proven to be unnecessarily restrictive in real-world clinical practice. It has been suggested that application of relaxed exclusion criteria might increase the IV thrombolysis rate up to 20% with comparable outcomes to thrombolysis with more conventional criteria. We review the absolute and relative contraindications to IV rtPA for acute ischemic stroke, discussing the underlying rationale and evidence supporting these exclusion criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-121
Number of pages12
JournalThe Neurohospitalist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2015


  • acute stroke
  • contraindications
  • thrombolytic therapy
  • tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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