Monitoring intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke with diffusion and perfusion MRI

P D Schellinger, O Jansen, J B Fiebach, S Heiland, T Steiner, S Schwab, O Pohlers, H Ryssel, K Sartor, W Hacke
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2000, 31 (6): 1318-28

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) administration is an effective therapy for ischemic stroke when initiated within 3 hours and possibly up to 6 hours after symptom onset. To improve patient selection, a fast diagnostic tool that allows reliable diagnosis of hemorrhage and ischemia, vessel status, and tissue at risk at an early stage may be useful. We studied the feasibility of stroke MRI for the initial evaluation and follow-up monitoring of patients undergoing intravenous thrombolysis.

METHODS: Stroke MRI (diffusion- and perfusion-weighted imaging [DWI and PWI, respectively], magnetic resonance angiography, and T2-weighted imaging) was performed before, during, or after thrombolysis and on days 2 and 5. We assessed clinical scores (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS], Scandinavian Stroke Scale [SSS], Barthel Index, and Rankin scale) at days 1, 2, 5, 30, and 90. Furthermore, we performed volumetric analysis of infarct volumes on days 1, 2, and 5 as shown in PWI, DWI, and T2-weighted imaging.

RESULTS: Twenty-four patients received rtPA within a mean time interval after symptom onset of 3.27 hours and stroke MRI of 3.43 hours. Vessel occlusion was present in 20 of 24 patients; 11 vessels recanalized (group 1), and 9 did not (group 2). The baseline PWI lesion volume was significantly larger (P=0.008) than outcome lesion size in group 1, whereas baseline DWI lesion volume was significantly smaller (P=0.008) than final infarct size in group 2. Intergroup outcome differed significantly for all scores at days 30 and 90 (all P<0.01). Intragroup differences were significant in group 1 for change in SSS and NIHSS between day 1 and day 30 (P=0.003) and for SSS only between day 1 and day 90 (P=0.004).

CONCLUSIONS: Stroke MRI provides comprehensive prognostically relevant information regarding the brain in hyperacute stroke. Stroke MRI may be used as a single imaging tool in acute stroke to identify and monitor candidates for thrombolysis. It is proposed that stroke MRI is safe, reliable, and cost effective; however, our data do not prove this assumption. Early recanalization achieved by thrombolysis can save tissue at risk if present and may result in significantly smaller infarcts and a significantly better outcome.

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