, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp S41-S57

Thrombolysis in thromboembolic diseases

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Thrombolysis in many manifestations of thromboembolic disease offers a valuable alternative to surgery. However, as thrombolysis is always associated with a bleeding hazard (though low) one should always weigh the risks against the expected benefits when the decision for or against this therapeutic option is made. Furthermore, in selecting the appropriate thrombolytic agent, one should be led by the urgency of reperfusion to maintain organ function. If one decides on an aggressive, high-dose, brief-duration regimen, reperfusion may be achieved more rapidly but may be incomplete in the majority of cases. On the other hand, by selecting an intermediate- or long-duration, low-dose regimen, reperfusion may happen too late to improve the patient's prognosis. Above all, one should keep in mind that the hazard of serious bleeding constantly increases with duration of thrombolysis. No matter which strategy is regarded as the best to resolve a clot in a particular patient with a particular type of thromboembolic disease, thrombolysis should be accompanied by high doses of i.v. heparin. Finally, if bleeding occurs in spite of all precautions taken, the new generation of fibrinspecific thrombolytic agents offers the advantage of short half-lives. In addition—in contrast to streptokinase—the hemostatic defect that they cause may be rapidly reversed by the infusion of antagonistic drugs such as aprotinin, tranexamic acid, or ɛ-aminocaproic acid. This adds to the clinical safety profile of these thrombolytic agents.

Dedicated to Prof. Dr. P.R. Lichtlen on the occasion of his 65th birthday