Magnetic resonance imaging improves detection of intracerebral hemorrhage over computed tomography after intra-arterial thrombolysis

David M Greer, Walter J Koroshetz, Sean Cullen, R Gilberto Gonzalez, Michael H Lev
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2004, 35 (2): 491-5

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Unenhanced CT is routinely performed after intra-arterial (IA) thrombolysis. The presence of residual contrast causing staining of injured brain may mimic intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). We evaluated MRI with diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) for detection of ICH after IA thrombolysis, specifically in equivocal areas of hyperdensity seen on postprocedure CT, to help guide the decision to use anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy after the IA thrombolysis.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of 15 consecutive patients who underwent IA thrombolysis for acute stroke between September 2000 and March 2003. Inclusion criteria required an immediate postprocedure CT with a questionable hyperdensity and, within the next 48 hours, an MRI with DWI and/or SWI.

RESULTS: All patients had CT regions of hyperdensity that were equivocal for the presence of ICH. All patients subsequently underwent DWI, and 11 also underwent SWI. Eleven of 15 patients had magnetic susceptibility-induced hypointensity in DWI hyperintensity regions, signifying the presence of acute deoxyhemoglobin. Nine of these patients also received SWI, which confirmed the presence of blood within these regions. Follow-up CT on all 11 patients confirmed ICH. In the 4 patients without DWI susceptibility change, 0 were found to have ICH on either SWI (performed in 2 patients) or follow-up CT. MRI reliably detected the presence of ICH in all patients, whereas CT failed to differentiate contrast staining from hemorrhage in 4 of the 15 patients.

CONCLUSIONS: MRI is an effective means to detect the presence of blood within an equivocal region on post-IA thrombolysis CT. This may influence the decision to use anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy.

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