Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA)

Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is an intravenous medicine given for ischemic stroke that can dissolve the clot causing the stroke. Studies show that people who receive tPA within three hours (up to 4.5 hours in some patients) have better and more complete recoveries.

tPA is the only FDA-approved drug treatment for acute ischemic stroke. Administering it quickly is critical, because when brain cells don’t receive blood, they die, affecting brain function. In some patients, tPA can restore blood flow to the brain within just a few minutes.

The UT Southwestern Difference

UT Southwestern researchers helped refine usage of tPA when it was being tested in the 1980s. Now, as the only Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center in North Texas, we have perfected use of this drug and are experts at knowing when to combine it with endovascular rescue therapy to remove the clot.

Our stroke team is available around the clock to administer tPA intravenously (IV tPA) or directly to the site of the blockage in the brain through a catheter inserted via the groin. This intra-arterial approach is especially beneficial for patients who have recently had surgery, are on blood thinners, or who may have missed the critical three-hour window.

What to Expect

If you or a loved one notices signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately and go to the nearest stroke center in an ambulance. All strokes are medical emergencies. Most hospitals can apply tPA to break down the blood clot that’s causing the ischemic stroke if you qualify and are within the three-hour window.

Once you’re stabilized, you may be transferred to a higher-level stroke center such as UT Southwestern for further treatment and rehabilitation.

Request an Appointment

If you or a loved one notices signs of a stroke, call 911 immediately and go to the nearest stroke center in an ambulance.

If you are not experiencing stroke symptoms and want to schedule an appointment with a stroke specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas, or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.