JOURNAL ARTICLE

Prediction of impending hemorrhagic transformation in ischemic stroke using magnetic resonance imaging in rats

R A Knight, P B Barker, S C Fagan, Y Li, M A Jacobs, K M Welch
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 1998, 29 (1): 144-51
9445344

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Hemorrhagic transformation (HT) of ischemic brain tissue may occur in stroke patients either spontaneously or after thrombolysis. A method to assess the risk of HT in ischemic tissue after stroke would improve the safety of thrombolytic therapy. As a means of predicting HT, we investigated the role of contrast-enhanced MRI at acute time points in a rat middle cerebral artery occlusion model with reperfusion.

METHODS: Intraluminal suture occlusion of the middle cerebral artery was used to produce transient ischemia in male Wistar rats (n=11). Reperfusion was performed by withdrawal of the occluding filament after 2 (n=4), 3 (n=6), or 4 (n=1) hours. MRI studies were performed before and after reperfusion with the use of conventional T1-weighted imaging, with and without gadolinium (Gd-DTPA) contrast agent, and T2-weighted imaging. Follow-up MRI and histological studies were obtained at 24 hours.

RESULTS: Petechial hemorrhage occurred by 24 hours in 9 of 11 animals. All animals showed brain swelling and cellular death throughout the ischemic region at 24 hours. A hyperintense region in the preoptic area became visible after Gd-DTPA injection within minutes after reperfusion in animals with subsequent HT. All animals showing acute Gd-DTPA enhancement subsequently developed petechial hemorrhage (or died) by 24 hours. In these animals, statistically significant differences in signal intensity (P=.0005) between the ipsilateral enhancing region and a homologous contralateral region were detected on post-Gd-DTPA T1-weighted imaging. There was also a statistically significant correlation (P=.01) between the rate of Gd-DTPA uptake and the size of the enhancing area. Two animals did not enhance with Gd-DTPA and did not exhibit hemorrhage on histological examination or MRI at 24 hours. No abnormalities were seen on precontrast T1-weighted images before and shortly after reperfusion or postcontrast T1-weighted images before reperfusion.

CONCLUSIONS: The primary finding of this study was the detection of early Gd-DTPA parenchymal enhancement in 82% of the animals after reperfusion. Enhancement was seen before any detectable hemorrhage, suggesting that early endothelial ischemic damage occurs before gross brain infarction and hemorrhage. Thus, we suggest that acute Gd-DTPA enhancement may provide an early prediction of petechial hemorrhage.

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