Two tales: hemorrhagic transformation but not parenchymal hemorrhage after thrombolysis is related to severity and duration of ischemia: MRI study of acute stroke patients treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator within 6 hours

Götz Thomalla, Jan Sobesky, Martin Köhrmann, Jochen B Fiebach, Jens Fiehler, Olivier Zaro Weber, Anna Kruetzelmann, Thomas Kucinski, Michael Rosenkranz, Joachim Röther, Peter D Schellinger
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2007, 38 (2): 313-8

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Intracerebral hemorrhage represents the most feared complication of treatment with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator. We studied whether perfusion-weighted imaging and diffusion-weighted imaging has the potential to identify patients at risk of severe intracerebral hemorrhage after treatment with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator.

METHODS: We analyzed data of prospectively studied MRI selected acute ischemic stroke patients treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator within 6 hours. All patients were examined by perfusion- and diffusion-weighted imaging < or =6 hours. Perfusion- and diffusion-weighted imaging lesion volumes were calculated. Hemorrhagic transformation was assessed on follow-up CT or MRI and diagnosed as hemorrhagic transformation, parenchymal hemorrhage, or symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage according to ECASS II criteria.

RESULTS: Of 152 patients, hemorrhagic transformation was seen in 60 (39.5%), parenchymal hemorrhage in 15 (9.9%), and symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage in 4 (2.6%). Multiple logistic regression analysis identified onset to treatment time after 3 to 6 hours (P<0.001), a larger perfusion-weighted imaging lesion volume (P=0.002), and, as a tendency, a higher score on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale on admission (P=0.068) as independent predictors of hemorrhagic transformation. Neither MRI lesion volumes nor severity of symptoms, but rather only an older age tended to be associated with parenchymal hemorrhage (P=0.087).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results further support the concept of a different pathogenesis for hemorrhagic transformation and parenchymal hemorrhage. Whereas hemorrhagic transformation should be regarded as a clinically irrelevant epiphenomenon of ischemic damage and reperfusion, parenchymal hemorrhage appears to be related to biologic effects of tissue plasminogen activator and other pre-existing pathologic conditions, which deserve further investigation.

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