Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of triphasic perfusion computed tomography (TPCT) in diagnosing middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion and in assessing the perfusion deficit and collateral circulation in patients with acute ischemic stroke.
Background: Conventional angiography is the criterion standard for the diagnosis of MCA occlusion and for the assessment of perfusion deficit and collateral blood supply. The risk of hemorrhagic transformation after recanalization of occluded arteries by thrombolytic therapy is considered high when pretherapeutic residual flow is markedly reduced.
Patients and methods: In 8 patients within 3 hours of onset of acute MCA stroke, precontrast computed tomographic scans were taken, and then TPCT was performed after power-injector controlled intravenous administration of contrast media. Sequential images of early, middle, and late phases were obtained. The whole procedure took 5 minutes. Perfusion deficit on TPCT was graded as "severe" or "moderate," depending on the state of collateral flow. Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) was performed in all patients within 6 hours of acute stroke. Direct intra-arterial urokinase infusion was begun immediately after the angiographic superselection of the MCA occlusion site in 6 of the 8 patients within 7 hours of onset (range, 4.3-6.2 hours).
Results: The DSA findings showed occlusion of the MCA stem (n = 1) and at the bifurcation (n = 4). The sites of proximal MCA occlusion could be identified on the early and middle images of TPCT in all 5 patients. On DSA findings, all 8 patients had a zone of perfusion deficit with markedly slow leptomeningeal collaterals and a zone of perfusion deficit with no collaterals. The zone of severe perfusion deficit on TPCT corresponded to the zone of perfusion deficit with no or few collaterals on angiography, and the zone of moderate perfusion deficit on TPCT corresponded to that of perfusion deficit with markedly slow leptomeningeal collaterals. Early parenchymal hypoattenuation on precontrast computed tomography was confined to the zone of severe perfusion deficit on TPCT. The initial National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score correlated better with the total extent of severe perfusion deficit and moderate perfusion deficit on TPCT than that of severe perfusion deficit alone. After direct intra-arterial thrombolysis within 7 hours of onset, symptomatic hemorrhagic transformation did not develop in 4 patients with small severe perfusion deficit (33% or less of the presumed MCA territory). However, the remaining 2 patients with large severe perfusion deficit (more than 50% of the presumed MCA territory) deteriorated to death with hemorrhagic transformation.
Conclusions: Triphasic perfusion computed tomography is useful for diagnosing proximal MCA occlusion and assessing perfusion deficit and collateral circulation as reliably as DSA. The zone of severe perfusion deficit on TPCT may be presumed to be the ischemic core, and that of moderate perfusion deficit, the penumbra zone. Triphasic perfusion computed tomography may be used as a rapid and noninvasive tool to make thrombolysis safer.