• vascular thrombosis;
  • catheterization;
  • tissue plasminogen activator


To assess the efficacy and safety of low dose tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) therapy in children with vascular thrombosis following cardiac catheterization.


Currently, heparin is the standard of care for vascular thrombosis, however, it may not be efficacious in dissolving existing thrombi. Although tPA is an accepted thrombolytic therapy for life-threatening thrombosis in children, it is not a well-established treatment for the thrombosis of femoral vessels following cardiac catheterization.


A retrospective analysis was performed from 1/1/2009 until 6/30/2011 at Rady Children's Hospital—San Diego (RCHSD) reviewing all cases with venous or arterial thrombosis at the vascular access site following cardiac catheterization, and a survey was conducted among the Congenital Cardiovascular Interventional Study Consortium members regarding their experience in tPA therapy.


At RCHSD, out of 1,155 catheterizations, 12 children developed femoral thrombosis. In three children, where 12-h heparin therapy was unsuccessful in resolving thrombosis, we used low-dose tPA according to the following regime: 0.05 mg/kg/h for 30 min, followed by 0.1 mg/kg/h for 4 h. We achieved thrombolysis in all cases evidenced by repeat ultrasound and return of palpable pulse with normal limb circulation. No complications were encountered. The survey confirmed that adult tPA dose (0.1–0.5 mg/kg/h) has 100% efficacy in resolving thrombi in children with vascular thrombosis, however, the rate of serious complications was not negligible (15%).


tPA is an efficacious therapy to dissolve thrombi that developed as a complication of cardiac catheterization in children. The rate of complications due to tPA may be reduced using a lower dose: 0.05–0.1 mg/kg/h. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.