Background: A number of patients with symptoms of acute cerebral ischemia may have other causes called stroke mimics (SM). The prevalence of SM can be as high as 31% in some reports, and these patients are potentially at the risk of intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) therapy and its complications. This study was designed to determine the prevalence of our center ’s SM among patients who received IVT, their baseline characteristics, final diagnoses, and outcomes.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records of all patients who received IVT between June 2015 and November 2017. The following variables were collected: demographic characteristics, past medical history, onset-to-needle (OTN) time, door-to-needle (DTN) time, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score at admission, brain imaging, and all paraclinic findings. Functional outcome at discharge based on modified Rankin Scale (mRS) was also assessed.
Results: 12 out of 165 (7.1%) patients including 8 men and 4 women were finally diagnosed with SM. The median age and NIHSS score at presentation were 60 years and 7, respectively. Final diagnoses were seizure (n = 6), hemiplegic migraine (n = 2), conversion (n = 1), and alcohol intoxication (n = 1). All patients were discharged with a mRS score of 0 and 1 without experiencing any thrombolytic adverse effects.
Conclusion: None of the patients with SM experienced any adverse effect of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) including hemorrhage and all of them reached good mRS score. This shows that tPA is generally safe and the risk of treating patients with SM is very low and making a vital treatment decision may outweigh the risk of neglected cases in a time-sensitive setting.