The evaluation and management of acute ischemic stroke has primarily relied on the use of conventional CT and MRI techniques as well as lumen imaging sequences such as CT angiography (CTA) and MR angiography (MRA). Several newer or less-established imaging modalities, including vessel wall MRI, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, and 4D CTA and MRA, are being developed to complement conventional CT and MRI techniques. Vessel wall MRI provides high-resolution analysis of both extracranial and intracranial vasculature to help identify previously occult lesions or characteristics of lesions that may portend a worse natural history. Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography can be used in the acute setting as a minimally invasive way of identifying large vessel occlusions or monitoring the response to stroke treatment. It can also be used to assist in the workup for cryptogenic stroke or to diagnose a patent foramen ovale. Four-dimensional CTA and MRA provide a less invasive alternative to digital subtraction angiography to determine the extent of the clot burden and the degree of collateral blood flow in large vessel occlusions. Along with technological advances, these new imaging modalities are improving the diagnosis, workup, and management of acute ischemic stroke— roles that will continue to expand in the future.
Craig Kilburg, J. Scott McNally, Adam de Havenon, Philipp Taussky, M. Yashar S. Kalani, and Min S. Park
Adam de Havenon, Kole Mickolio, Steven O’Donnell, Greg Stoddard, J. Scott McNally, Matthew Alexander, Philipp Taussky, and Al-Wala Awad
Endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) and tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) are effective ischemic stroke treatments in the initial treatment window. In the extended treatment window, these treatments may offer benefit, but CT and MR perfusion may be necessary to determine patient eligibility. Many hospitals do not have access to advanced imaging tools or EVT capability, and further patient care would require transfer to a facility with these capabilities. To assist transfer decisions, the authors developed risk indices that could identify patients eligible for extended-window EVT or tPA.
The authors retrospectively identified stroke patients who had concurrent CTA and perfusion and evaluated three potential outcomes that would suggest a benefit from patient transfer. The first outcome was large-vessel occlusion (LVO) and target mismatch (TM) in patients 5–23 hours from last known normal (LKN). The second outcome was TM in patients 5–15 hours from LKN with known LVO. The third outcome was TM in patients 4.5–12 hours from LKN. The authors created multivariable models using backward stepping with an α-error criterion of 0.05 and assessed them using C statistics.
The final predictors included the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), the Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score (ASPECTS), and age. The prediction of the first outcome had a C statistic of 0.71 (n = 145), the second outcome had a C statistic of 0.85 (n = 56), and the third outcome had a C statistic of 0.86 (n = 54). With 1 point given for each predictor at different cutoffs, a score of 3 points had probabilities of true positive of 80%, 90%, and 94% for the first, second, and third outcomes, respectively.
Despite the limited sample size, compared with perfusion-based examinations, the clinical variables identified in this study accurately predicted which stroke patients would have salvageable penumbra (C statistic 71%–86%) in a range of clinical scenarios and treatment cutoffs. This prediction improved (C statistic 85%–86%) when utilized in patients with confirmed LVO or a less stringent tissue mismatch (TM < 1.2) cutoff. Larger patient registries should be used to validate and improve the predictive ability of these models.