Thalamic Diaschisis in Acute Ischemic Stroke: Occurrence, Perfusion Characteristics, and Impact on Outcome

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Ipsilateral thalamic diaschisis (ITD) describes the reduction of thalamic function, metabolism, and perfusion resulting from a distant lesion of the ipsilateral hemisphere. Our aim was to evaluate the perfusion characteristics and clinical impact of ITD in acute middle cerebral artery stroke, which does not directly affect the thalamus.

Methods—

One hundred twenty-four patients with middle cerebral artery infarction were selected from a prospectively acquired cohort of 1644 patients who underwent multiparametric computed tomography (CT), including CT perfusion for suspected stroke. Two blinded readers evaluated the occurrence of ITD, defined as ipsilateral thalamic hypoperfusion present on ≥2 CT perfusion maps. Perfusion alterations were defined according to the Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score regions. Final infarction volume and subacute complications were assessed on follow-up imaging. Clinical outcome was quantified using the modified Rankin Scale. Multivariable linear and ordinal logistic regression analysis were applied to identify independent associations.

Results—

ITD was present in 25/124 subjects (20.2%, ITD+). In ITD+ subjects, perfusion of the caudate nucleus, internal capsule, and lentiform nucleus was more frequently affected than in ITD− patients (each with P<0.001). In the ITD+ group, larger cerebral blood flow (P=0.002) and cerebral blood volume (P<0.001) deficit volumes, as well as smaller cerebral blood flow–cerebral blood volume mismatch (P=0.021) were observed. There was no independent association of ITD with final infarction volume or clinical outcome at discharge in treatment subgroups (each with P>0.05). ITD had no influence on the development of subacute stroke complications.

Conclusions—

ITD in the form of thalamic hypoperfusion is a frequent CT perfusion finding in the acute phase in middle cerebral artery stroke patients with marked involvement of subcortical areas. ITD does not result in thalamic infarction and had no independent impact on patient outcome. Notably, ITD was misclassified as part of the ischemic core by automated software, which might affect patient selection in CT perfusion–based trials.

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