Utility of perfusion imaging in acute stroke treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Variability in imaging protocols and techniques has resulted in a lack of consensus regarding the incorporation of perfusion imaging into stroke triage and treatment. The objective of our study was to evaluate the available scientific evidence regarding the utility of perfusion imaging in determining treatment eligibility in patients with acute stroke and in predicting their clinical outcome.


We performed a systematic review of the literature using PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library focusing on themes of medical imaging, stroke, treatment, and outcome (CRD42016037817). We included randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, and case-controlled studies published from 2011 to 2016. Two independent reviewers conducted the study appraisal, data abstraction, and quality assessments of the studies.


Our literature search yielded 13 studies that met our inclusion criteria. In total, 994 patients were treated with the aid of perfusion imaging compared with 1819 patients treated with standard care. In the intervention group 51.1% of patients had a favorable outcome at 3 months compared with 45.6% of patients in the control group (p=0.06). Subgroup analysis of studies that used multimodal therapy (IV tissue plasminogen activator, endovascular thrombectomy) showed a significant benefit of perfusion imaging (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.43 to 2.51, p<0.01).


Perfusion imaging may represent a complementary tool to standard radiographic assessment in enhancing patient selection for reperfusion therapy, with a subset of patients having up to 1.9 times the odds of achieving independent functional status at 3 months. This is particularly important as patients selected based on perfusion status often included individuals who did not meet the current treatment eligibility criteria.

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