Brain Damage After Open Heart Surgery in Patients With Acute Cardioembolic Stroke

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We evaluated 14 patients with acute cardiogenic embolism who underwent open heart surgery soon after the onset to determine the cerebral and cardiac factors that influence neurologic outcome. The mean interval from onset of cerebral embolism to surgery was 5.3 (range 1–16) days. Five of the 14 patients had vegetations from infective endocarditis (including prosthetic valve endocarditis) as embolic sources, eight had intracardiac thrombi, and one had atrial myxoma. The diagnosed site of infarction before surgery was based on computed tomographic and/or angiographic findings. Of the 14 patients, four had infarcts due to major artery occlusion, seven due to cortical branch occlusion, and two due to perforating artery occlusion; one patient presented with a transient ischemic attack without computed tomographic abnormalities. Ten patients (71%) showed no clinical aggravation after open heart surgery; however, two patients died of massive cerebral hemorrhage, one died of deterioration of brain edema, and another became comatose from midbrain hemorrhage immediately after surgery. The four patients with clinical aggravation comprised three with septic embolism and one with aseptic occlusion of a major artery. From these results, infective endocarditis and a large infarct appear to be possible aggravating factors when patients with recent cerebral embolism undergo open heart surgery. (Stroke 1989;20:1305–1310)

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