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Failure of thrombolysis: experience with a policy of early angiography and rescue angioplasty for electrocardiographic evidence of failed thrombolysis
  1. A G C Sutton,
  2. P G Campbell,
  3. E D Grech,
  4. D J A Price,
  5. A Davies,
  6. J A Hall,
  7. M J Stewart,
  8. M A de Belder
  1. Cardiothoracic Division, South Cleveland Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough TS4 3BW, UK
  1. Dr de Belder email:mdb.sch.heart{at}


OBJECTIVE To assess the outcome of a policy of emergency coronary angiography with or without rescue angioplasty in patients with acute myocardial infarction and ECG evidence of failed reperfusion after thrombolysis.

DESIGN A cohort study.

SETTING Regional cardiothoracic unit.

PATIENTS 197 patients with acute myocardial infarction fulfilling a simple ECG criterion of failed reperfusion.

INTERVENTIONS Emergency coronary angiography proceeding to rescue angioplasty for inadequate antegrade flow.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Hospital mortality for all 197 patients; incidence of successful and failed rescue angioplasty; need for additional revascularisation in those receiving rescue angioplasty compared with those not treated in this way.

RESULTS 197 patients had emergency angiography for ECG evidence of failed reperfusion; 156 patients received immediate rescue angioplasty. Overall hospital mortality for those undergoing rescue angioplasty was 11.5%. Rescue angioplasty achieved TIMI 2 (11) or TIMI 3 (124) in 135 patients, who had a hospital mortality of 5.9%. Failure to achieve at least TIMI 2 flow following rescue angioplasty occurred in 21 patients, with a hospital mortality of 48%. In the 41 patients in whom immediate rescue angioplasty was not performed, reinfarction or requirement for revascularisation occurred in 37%. Reinfarction occurred in three patients (1.9%) who had immediate rescue angioplasty. Hospital mortality for the whole cohort was 10.7%.

CONCLUSIONS A policy of emergency coronary angiography proceeding to rescue angioplasty where appropriate reduces mortality in a high risk group to a level less than expected for patients with acute myocardial infarction and ECG evidence of failed reperfusion. Unsuccessful rescue angioplasty is associated with a high mortality.

  • acute myocardial infarction
  • rescue angioplasty
  • failed reperfusion

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