Early Ischemic Edema on Cerebral Computed Tomography: Its Relation to Diffusion Changes and Hypoperfusion within 6 h after Human Ischemic Stroke

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Brain tissue hypoattenuation on early computed tomography is frequently included in decision making in acute stroke management. However, its pathophysiological counterpart needs further evaluation.


By comparative imaging with diffusion-weighted imaging and 15O-water positron emission tomography we aimed to interpret early (<6 h) hypoattenuation.


In 11 patients, the hypoattenuation corresponded to a decreased proton diffusion (median 115.9% relative DWI value) measured by magnetic resonance imaging and to a severe hypoperfusion (below 12 ml/100 g/ min) assessed by positron emission tomography. The volume of parenchymal hypoattenuation correlated to the tissue with disturbed diffusion (Spearman's rho = 0.73), but largely underestimated the hypoperfusion below 20 ml/100 g/min.


Early hypoattenuation reflects the coupling of the severity of ischemia and resulting diffusion changes. It allows an estimate of the infarct core but underestimates the penumbral hypoperfusion.

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