Background and purpose: We sought to characterize the evolution of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and apparent diffusion anisotropy (ADA) in acute stroke and to evaluate their roles in predicting stroke evolution and outcome.
Methods: We studied 26 stroke patients acutely (<24 hours), subacutely (3 to 5 days), and at outcome (3 months). Ratios of the ADC and ADA within a region of infarction and the normal contralateral region were evaluated and compared with the Canadian Neurological Scale, Barthel Index, and Rankin Scale.
Results: Heterogeneity in ADC and ADA evolution was observed not only between patients but also within individual lesions. Three patterns of ADA evolution were observed: (1) elevated ADA acutely and subacutely; (2) elevated ADA acutely and reduced ADA subacutely; and (3) reduced ADA acutely and subacutely. At outcome, reduced ADA with elevated ADC was observed generally. We identified 3 phases of diffusion abnormalities: (1) reduced ADC and elevated ADA; (2) reduced ADC and reduced ADA; and (3) elevated ADC and reduced ADA. The ADA ratios within 12 hours correlated with the acute Canadian Neurological Scale (r=0.46, P=0.06), subacute Canadian Neurological Scale (r=0.55, P=0.02), outcome Barthel Index (r=0.62, P=0.01), and Rankin Scale (r=-0.77, P<0.0005) scores.
Conclusions: Combined ADC and ADA provide differential patterns of stroke evolution. Early ADA changes reflect cellular alterations in acute ischemia and may provide a potential marker to predict stroke outcome.