Background: Accurate assessment of prognosis in the first hours of stroke is desirable for best patient management. We aimed to assess whether the extent of ischaemic brain injury on magnetic reasonance diffusion-weighted imaging (MR DWI) could provide additional prognostic information to clinical factors.
Methods: In a three-phase study we studied 66 patients from a North American teaching hospital who had: MR DWI within 36 h of stroke onset; the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score measured at the time of scanning; and the Barthel Index measured no later than 3 months after stroke. We used logistic regression to derive a predictive model for good recovery. This logistic regression model was applied to an independent series of 63 patients from an Australian teaching hospital, and we then developed a three-item scale for the early prediction of stroke recovery.
Findings: Combined measurements of the NIHSS score (p=0.01), time in hours from stroke onset to MR DWI (p=0.02), and the volume of ischaemic brain tissue on MR DWI (p=0.04) gave the best prediction of stroke recovery. The model was externally validated on the Australian sample with 0.77 sensitivity and 0.88 specificity. Three likelihood levels for stroke recovery-low (0-2), medium (3-4), and high (5-7)-were identified on the three-item scale.
Interpretation: The combination of clinical and MR DWI factors provided better prediction of stroke recovery than any factor alone, shortly after admission to hospital. This information was incorporated into a three-item scale for clinical use.