Can diffusion-weighted imaging-fluid-attenuated inversion recovery mismatch (positive diffusion-weighted imaging/negative fluid-attenuated inversion recovery) at 3 Tesla identify patients with stroke at <4.5 hours?

Samuel Emeriau, Isabelle Serre, Olivier Toubas, Francis Pombourcq, Catherine Oppenheim, Laurent Pierot
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2013, 44 (6): 1647-51

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: At 1.5 T, diffusion-weighted imaging-fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (DWI-FLAIR) mismatch helps identify strokes within 4.5 hours of onset. However, at 3T, studies have found divergent results. The goal of this study was to determine whether DWI-FLAIR mismatch at 3T would also be helpful for identifying patients within 4.5 hours of symptom onset.

METHODS: All patients presenting with an ischemic stroke in the middle cerebral artery territory and explored with 3T MRI within 12 hours between November 2007 and April 2012 were included in this retrospective study. Two readers analyzed the DWI and FLAIR images. Logistic regression was performed to determine independent predictors of FLAIR visibility. Also, the predictive values of a mismatch for identifying patients with stroke onset ≤4.5 hours were estimated.

RESULTS: The study included 194 patients. The only predictive factor of FLAIR visibility was delayed MRI acquisition. The DWI-FLAIR mismatch was able to identify patients within 4.5 hours of stroke onset with relatively low sensitivity (0.55; 95% confidence interval, 0.48-0.63), low specificity (0.60; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-0.77), high positive predictive value (0.88; 95% confidence interval, 0.82-0.94), and very low negative predictive value (0.19; 95% confidence interval, 0.11-0.28). In addition, 44.5% of patients had a positive FLAIR sequence within 4.5 hours.

CONCLUSIONS: This study improves our understanding of DWI-FLAIR mismatch as an imaging biomarker for wake-up management of patients with stroke. At 3T, the presence of a DWI-FLAIR mismatch was able to identify stroke onset of <4.5 hours. However, 44.5% of such stroke cases demonstrated FLAIR signal changes.

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