Early Change in Stroke Size Performs Best in Predicting Response to Therapy

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Abstract

Background: Reliable imaging biomarkers of response to therapy in acute stroke are needed. The final infarct volume and percent of early reperfusion have been used for this purpose. Early fluctuation in stroke size is a recognized phenomenon, but its utility as a biomarker for response to therapy has not been established. This study examined the clinical relevance of early change in stroke volume and compared it with the final infarct volume and percent of early reperfusion in identifying early neurologic improvement (ENI). Methods: Acute stroke patients, enrolled between 2013 and 2014 with serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (pretreatment baseline, 2 h post, and 24 h post), who received thrombolysis were included in the analysis. Early change in stroke volume, infarct volume at 24 h on diffusion, and percent of early reperfusion were calculated from the baseline and 2 h MRI scans were compared. ENI was defined as ≥4 point decrease in National Institutes of Health Stroke Scales within 24 h. Logistic regression models and receiver operator characteristics analysis were used to compare the efficacy of 3 imaging biomarkers. Results: Serial MRIs of 58 acute stroke patients were analyzed. Early change in stroke volume was significantly associated with ENI by logistic regression analysis (OR 0.93, p = 0.048) and remained significant after controlling for stroke size and severity (OR 0.90, p = 0.032). Thus, for every 1 mL increase in stroke volume, there was a 10% decrease in the odds of ENI, while for every 1 mL decrease in stroke volume, there was a 10% increase in the odds of ENI. Neither infarct volume at 24 h nor percent of early reperfusion were significantly associated with ENI by logistic regression. Receiver-operator characteristic analysis identified early change in stroke volume as the only biomarker of the 3 that performed significantly different than chance (p = 0.03). Conclusions: Early fluctuations in stroke size may represent a more reliable biomarker for response to therapy than the more traditional measures of final infarct volume and percent of early reperfusion.

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