Methods and processes for the reanalysis of the NINDS tissue plasminogen activator for acute ischemic stroke treatment trial

Vicki Hertzberg, Timothy Ingall, William O'Fallon, Kjell Asplund, Lewis Goldfrank, Thomas Louis, Teresa Christianson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Treatment group imbalances in baseline stroke severity in the NINDS intravenous t-PA for acute stroke treatment trial led to controversy regarding the efficacy of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) in the treatment of acute ischemic stroke. Purpose: Describe thesteps used to independently re-evaluate this trial. Methods: NIH appointed an independent multidisciplinary committee that gained access to the original data. We undertook analyses of t-PA efficacy accounting for this imbalance, as well as analyses to identify subgroups that experienced additional harm or benefit from t-PA. Analyses of time from stroke onset to treatment (OTT), blood pressure, and intracerebral hemorrhage are given as illustrations. Results: Despite subgroup imbalances in baseline stroke severity, when t-PA was administered to acute ischemic stroke patients according to study protocol, there was a statistically significant and clinically important benefit of t-PA treatment resulting in a higher likelihood of having a favorable clinical outcome at 3 months. Moreover, we were unable to identify subgroups of patients between which t-PA treatment effect differed, albeit these analyses had low power. These data failed to support the NINDS investigators' conclusion that effect of t-PA therapy diminished with increasing values of OTT within the protocol-specified 3 h time limit. In addition, the blood pressure measurements were highly variable and inconsistently determined so as to be too unreliable for inclusion in analysis. Conclusion: With new NIH requirements for data-sharing, the frequency of re-analysis of clinical trial data may increase substantially. This re-evaluation provides a blueprint for future re-evaluations of other trials. These best practices include re-analysis of the study data, after suitable replication, by an independent multidisciplinary committee, including a skilled statistical programmer analyst. Primary investigators should address significant errors determined in such re-analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-315
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Trials
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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