Research Article: A User’s Guide to the NINDS rt-PA Stroke Trial Database

Date Published: May 20, 2008

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Robert J Dachs, John H Burton, Jeremy Joslin

Abstract: Robert Dachs and colleagues describe the process for researchers to acquire and decipher the dataset from the original NINDS rt-PA trial.

Partial Text: In December 1995, results from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders (NINDS) Recombinant Tissue Plasminogen Activator (rt-PA) Stroke Trial were published [1]. The implications of this trial have been profound, affecting the emergency management of stroke patients as well as any patient with apparent symptoms of an ischemic stroke.

A CD-ROM containing the NINDS rt-PA database can be purchased from the National Technical Information Service (; 1-888-584-8332). The cost is US$79.00 plus US$5.00 for shipping and handling, and delivery can be expected within seven to ten business days. However, the data on the CD-ROM are not in a readable format. Multiple conversions are required, which can only be accomplished with technical assistance from the software company (SAS Institute,; Once these conversions are completed and the data are placed in an Excel spreadsheet format, no key accompanies the dataset to decode the numeric designations given to the variables.

There are 100 separate variables recorded for the 624 patients enrolled in the NINDS study. Text S2 documents each individual variable in the order in which it is displayed in the Excel format.

This report is intended to demonstrate the process for establishing access and analyzing the NINDS rt-PA Stroke Trial dataset. While the purchase of the database is simple, the process of gaining access to the information on the CD-ROM is convoluted and difficult. We have summarized these steps and provided access to the entire database for researchers desiring to analyze the data from this landmark trial for independent research queries.



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