Assessing Safety of Thrombolytic Therapy

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Thrombolytic therapy involves thrombolytic agents administered to patients suffering from venous or arterial thrombosis. The therapy induces systemic effects interrelated with the thrombolytic agent used. Bleeding is a prominent complication of thrombolytic therapy. Exhaustion of coagulation factors, generation of excessive amounts of fibrin degradation products (FDPs), therapy-induced activation of coagulation, therapy-induced anticoagulation, and formation of new fibrin all illustrate the complexity of effects of the treatment and challenges the hemostatic balance in the patients. The therapy-induced effects can be modulated by parallel administration of anticoagulants. Risk assessment is mandatory prior to thrombolytic therapy. Anticoagulated and unconscious patients represent particular safety concerns, and should be fully evaluated. Several guidelines describe the choice of tests and their safety limits in relation to pretreatment evaluation of anticoagulated patients. Fibrinogen depletion and FDPs during treatment may be promising markers for the evaluation of bleeding risk posttreatment. Future risk assessment measures should focus on the dynamics of the hemostatic balance. Here, thromboelastography may be considered a tool addressing clot formation, fibrin structure, and fibrinolytic resistance in parallel. Suitable laboratory analysis performed shortly after treatment may help to recognize severe treatment-induced systemic effects that can be counteracted by rational treatment, thereby reducing bleeding risk.

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