Objective: Pyrexia is associated with poor outcome after stroke, but the temperature changes in the brain after stroke are poorly understood. We used magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (water-to-N-acetylaspartate frequency shift) to measure cerebral temperature noninvasively in stroke patients.
Methods: We performed magnetic resonance diffusion, perfusion (diffusion- and perfusion-weighted imaging), and magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, compared temperatures in tissues as defined by the diffusion-weighted imaging appearance (definitely abnormal, possibly abnormal and immediately adjacent normal-appearing brain, and normal brain), and tested associations with lesion and patient characteristics.
Results: Among 40 patients, temperature was higher in possibly abnormal (37.63 degrees C) than in definitely abnormal tissue (37.30 degrees C; p < 0.001) or in normal-appearing brain (ipsilateral, 37.16 degrees C; contralateral, 37.22 degrees C; both p < 0.001). Ischemic lesion temperature increased before normal brain temperature. Higher temperatures occurred in lesions that were large, had diffusion/perfusion-weighted imaging mismatch, had reduced cerebral blood flow, and in clinically severe strokes. Only 1 of 25 patients with ischemic lesion temperature greater than 37.5 degrees C was pyrexial.
Interpretation: Temperature is elevated in acutely ischemic brain. More work is required to determine whether raised temperature results from ischemic metabolic reactions, impaired heat exchange from reduced cerebral blood flow, or early inflammatory cell activity (or a combination of these), but magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging could be used in studies of temperature after brain injury and to monitor interventions.