TPA Treatment for Ischemic Stroke May Result in Compartment Syndrome

Posted By Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC || 2-Sep-2015

Drs. Todd Yip and Bart Demaerschalk conducted a study to determine if there was a connection between the treatment for ischemic strokes and compartment syndrome. With their patient, they did find a correlation between the two medical diagnoses.

Ischemic strokes are normally caused by blood clots that prevent oxygenated blood from flowing to the brain. Such a stroke usually occurs because of high levels of fatty deposits that line the blood vessels. For individuals who suffer from an ischemic stroke, an intravenous tissue plaminogen activator (tPA) is usually administered to break down the blood clot and get the blood flowing to the brain again.

To achieve their case results, Drs. Yip and Demaerschalk studied a 70-year-old woman who was brought into the hospital because of weakness in her left side and an onset of dysarthria (the loss or confusion of speech). Because of the stroke, she had fallen on her left side. When the patient was brought into the hospital, she also suffered from:

  • Drowsiness
  • Left hemineglect
  • Preference of the right gaze
  • Left facial weakness
  • Loss of sensation on the left side

The doctors identified her National Institute of Health Stroke Scale Score (NIHSSS) to be 18, which was a moderate to high stroke. Doctors administered .9 milligrams/kilograms of tPA. Within 2 hours, the patient’s NIHSSS came down to a 10. After the tPA was given, however, the patient experienced bruising, swelling, and tension in her left forearm; there was a clear presence of compartment syndrome.

Compartment syndrome occurs when a part of the body experiences excessive pressure usually because of swelling or bleeding. The pressure, if neglected, can build up and prevent blood flow to vital organs. In the case of the patient, the effects of compartment syndrome for her subsided within three days.

With their study, Drs. Yip and Demaerschalk found that, though not conclusive, patients suffering from strokes are more susceptible to compartment syndrome. They posit that stroke victims are more likely to experience a fall or accident. This intern makes them more vulnerable to hematoma which can lead to compartment syndrome.

If not properly diagnosed, compartment syndrome can be very dangerous. Muscles, arms, legs, and more can be damaged to the point requiring amputation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice associated with compartment syndrome,contact the Portland trial attorneys at Paulson Coletti to review your legal rights.