Prediction of hemorrhagic transformation after thrombolytic therapy of clot embolism: an MRI investigation in rat brain

C Neumann-Haefelin, G Brinker, U Uhlenküken, F Pillekamp, K-A Hossmann, M Hoehn
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2002, 33 (5): 1392-8

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Thrombolytic treatment of stroke carries the risk of hemorrhagic transformation. Therefore, the potential of MRI for prediction of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA)-induced bleeding is explored to identify patients in whom rtPA treatment may provoke such complications.

METHODS: Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) (n=9) were submitted to middle cerebral artery (MCA) clot embolism, followed 3 hours later by intra-arterial infusion of 10 mg/kg rtPA. Untreated SHR (n=9) were infused with saline. MRI imaging was performed before treatment and included apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), T2, and perfusion mapping and contrast enhancement with gadolinium-DTPA. The distribution of intracerebral hemorrhages was studied 3 days later by histological staining.

RESULTS: Clot embolism led to the rapid decline of ADC in the territory of the occluded artery. Tissue lesion volume derived from ADC imaging increased by 155+/-69% in the untreated animals and by 168+/-87% in the treated animals (P=NS), determined on the histological sections after 3 days. This same lesion growth in both groups indicated absence of therapeutic effect after 3-hour treatment delay. Hemorrhagic transformations were significantly more frequent in treated SHR (P<0.05). In untreated rats, hemorrhages were found in the border zone of the ischemic territory; in treated animals, hemorrhagic transformations occurred in the ischemic core region. rtPA-induced hemorrhages were predicted by a disturbance of the blood-brain barrier in 3 of 4 animals before treatment by Gd-DTPA contrast enhancement but not by ADC, T2, or perfusion imaging. The region of contrast enhancement colocalized with subsequent bleeding in these animals.

CONCLUSIONS: The disturbance of blood-brain barrier but not of other MR parameters allows risk assessment for hemorrhagic transformation induced by subsequent thrombolytic treatment.

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