Yassi N, Zhao H, Churilov L, et al. Tranexamic acid versus placebo in individuals with intracerebral haemorrhage treated within 2 h of symptom onset (STOP-MSU): an international, double-blind, randomised, phase 2 trial. Lancet Neurol. 2024 Apr 19:S1474-4422(24)00128-5. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(24)00128-5.

BACKGROUND: Tranexamic acid, an antifibrinolytic agent, might attenuate haematoma growth after an intracerebral haemorrhage. We aimed to determine whether treatment with intravenous tranexamic acid within 2 h of an intracerebral haemorrhage would reduce haematoma growth compared with placebo.

METHODS: STOP-MSU was an investigator-led, double-blind, randomised, phase 2 trial conducted at 24 hospitals and one mobile stroke unit in Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Viet Nam. Eligible participants had acute spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage confirmed on non-contrast CT, were aged 18 years or older, and could be treated with the investigational product within 2 h of stroke onset. Using randomly permuted blocks (block size of 4) and a concealed pre-randomised assignment procedure, participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive intravenous tranexamic acid (1 g over 10 min followed by 1 g over 8 h) or placebo (saline; matched dosing regimen) commencing within 2 h of symptom onset. Participants, investigators, and treating teams were masked to group assignment. The primary outcome was haematoma growth, defined as either at least 33% relative growth or at least 6 mL absolute growth on CT at 24 h (target range 18-30 h) from the baseline CT. The analysis was conducted within the estimand framework with primary analyses adhering to the intention-to-treat principle. The primary endpoint and secondary safety endpoints (mortality at days 7 and 90 and major thromboembolic events at day 90) were assessed in all participants randomly assigned to treatment groups who did not withdraw consent to use any data. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03385928, and the trial is now complete.

FINDINGS: Between March 19, 2018, and Feb 27, 2023, 202 participants were recruited, of whom one withdrew consent for any data use. The remaining 201 participants were randomly assigned to either placebo (n=98) or tranexamic acid (n=103; intention-to-treat population). Median age was 66 years (IQR 55-77), and 82 (41%) were female and 119 (59%) were male; no data on race or ethnicity were collected. CT scans at baseline or follow-up were missing or of inadequate quality in three participants (one in the placebo group and two in the tranexamic acid group), and were considered missing at random. Haematoma growth occurred in 37 (38%) of 97 assessable participants in the placebo group and 43 (43%) of 101 assessable participants in the tranexamic acid group (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1·31 [95% CI 0·72 to 2·40], p=0·37). Major thromboembolic events occurred in one (1%) of 98 participants in the placebo group and three (3%) of 103 in the tranexamic acid group (risk difference 0·02 [95% CI -0·02 to 0·06]). By 7 days, eight (8%) participants in the placebo group and eight (8%) in the tranexamic acid group had died (aOR 1·08 [95% CI 0·35 to 3·35]) and by 90 days, 15 (15%) participants in the placebo group and 19 (18%) in the tranexamic acid group had died (aOR 1·61 [95% CI 0·65 to 3·98]).

INTERPRETATION: Intravenous tranexamic acid did not reduce haematoma growth when administered within 2 h of intracerebral haemorrhage symptom onset. There were no observed effects on other imaging endpoints, functional outcome, or safety. Based on our results, tranexamic acid should not be used routinely in primary intracerebral haemorrhage, although results of ongoing phase 3 trials will add further context to these findings.

FUNDING: Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund.

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Emergency Medicine rater

Ongoing trials will hopefully determine the role of TXA in spontaneous intracranial haemorrhage.

Emergency Medicine rater

TXA has demonstrated utility in trauma, but its use in TBI and ICH is more controversial. This double-blind phase 2 RCT included 201 patients > 18 years with ICH treated within 2 hours of stroke onset. Dosing of TXA was 1 g over 10 minutes and then 1 g over 8 hours, compared with placebo. TXA did not reduce hematoma growth. There were no differences in functional outcomes or safety. Although the sample size was not large, this study suggests that TXA should not be used in those with ICH.

Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists rater

Tranexamic acid is a very controversial component in managing ICH. This article sheds additional light on this medication.

Neurology rater

This phase 2 trial confirms the safety of tranexamic acid but does not determine the reduction in hematoma growth in spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage compared with placebo. We are awaiting the results of the phase 3 trials on tranexamic acid that is administered earlier than in previous trials and on recombinant factor VII.