Finding the most powerful measures of the effectiveness of tissue plasminogen activator in the NINDS tPA stroke trial

Joseph P. Broderick, Mei Lu, Rashmi Kothari, Steven R. Levine, Patrick D. Lyden, E. Clark Haley, Thomas G. Brott, James Grotta, Barbara C. Tilley, John R. Marler, Michael Frankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - We sought to identify the most powerful binary measures of the treatment effect of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) rTPA Stroke Trial. Methods - Using the Classification and Regression Tree (CART) algorithm, we evaluated binary cut points and combination of binary cut points with the 4 clinical scales and head CT imaging measures in the NINDS tPA Stroke Trial at 4 times after treatment: 2 hours, 24 hours, 7 to 10 days, and 3 months. The first analysis focused on detecting evidence of 'early activity' of tPA with the use of outcome measures derived from the 2-hour and 24-hour clinical and radiographic measures. The second analysis focused on longer-term outcome and 'efficacy' and used outcome measures derived from 7- to 10-day and 3-month measures. After identifying the cut points with the ability to classify patients into the tPA and placebo groups using part I data from the trial, we then used data from part II of the trial to validate the results. Results - Of the 5 most powerful outcome measures for early activity of tPA, 4 involved the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score at 24 hours or changes in the NIHSS score from baseline to 24 hours. The best overall single outcome measure was an NIHSS score ≤2 at 24 hours, which provided an odds ratio of 5.4 (95% CI, 2.4 to 12.1) and a projected sample size of 58 per treatment group assuming an α of 0.05 (2-sided test) and a power of 80% using part I data. The top 2 and 3 of the top 5 outcome measures for detecting the longer-term efficacy of tPA also involved the NIHSS score. A Rankin score of 0 or 1 at 3 months was the third most powerful outcome measure. Outcome measures identified by CART from part I data were not as sensitive in detecting the effectiveness of tPA when applied to part II data. Conclusions - Measures using the NIHSS and a Rankin score ≤1 were the most sensitive discriminators of the effectiveness of tPA in the NINDS tPA Stroke Trial compared with the other clinical and radiological measures. The outcome measures identified in this exploratory analysis (eg, NIHSS score ≤2 at 24 hours) would be best used as an outcome measure in future phase II trials of recanalization begun within the first 3 hours after stroke onset, with inclusion and exclusion criteria similar to those in the NINDS tPA Stroke Trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2335-2341
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000


  • Clinical trials
  • Models, predictive
  • Outcome
  • Stroke
  • Tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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