Leukoaraiosis is independently associated with naming outcome in poststroke aphasia

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Abstract

Objective

To test the hypothesis that severity of leukoaraiosis in the noninfarcted hemisphere at onset is associated with poorer language outcome after poststroke aphasia independently of volume of infarct, damage to 3 critical language areas (left inferior frontal gyrus, superior longitudinal fasciculus, and superior temporal gyrus), comorbid conditions, and time since stroke.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, we evaluated naming outcome (>3 months after stroke) in 42 individuals who initially had aphasia after stroke. We rated leukoaraiosis in the right hemisphere 1 to 4 weeks from onset of stroke using the Cardiovascular Health Study rating scale. We evaluated associations between severity of leukoaraiosis and each measure of naming using Spearman correlations and evaluated the independent contributions of leukoaraiosis, lesion volume, months since onset, comorbid conditions, and damage to critical nodes of the language network on language outcomes using logistic regression. We also evaluated associations between dichotomously defined leukoaraiosis and language outcomes using χ2 tests.

Results

Severity of leukoaraiosis at onset correlated with object naming (ρ = −0.56, p = 0.0008) and word fluency (ρ = −0.37, p = 0.01) outcomes. Severe leukoaraiosis was associated with failure to achieve the highest quartile of object naming and word fluency. Severity of leukoaraiosis was associated with degree of naming outcome with the use of both measures after controlling for lesion volume, months since stroke, comorbid conditions, and damage to specific locations.

Conclusion

Naming outcome after poststroke aphasia is influenced by the initial severity of right hemisphere leukoaraiosis independently of other variables. Degree of recovery from aphasia may depend on the integrity of the noninfarcted brain tissue.

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