Perfusion CT improves diagnostic accuracy for hyperacute ischemic stroke in the 3-hour window: study of 100 patients with diffusion MRI confirmation

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2009;28(1):72-9. doi: 10.1159/000219300. Epub 2009 May 20.


Purpose: Conventional noncontrast CT (NCCT) is insensitive to hyperacute cerebral infarction in the first 3 h. Our aim was to determine if CT perfusion (CTP) can improve diagnostic accuracy over NCCT for patients presenting with stroke symptoms in the 3-hour window.

Methods: Consecutive patients presenting to our emergency department with symptoms of ischemic stroke <3 h old and receiving NCCT and CTP as part of their triage evaluation were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with follow-up diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) <7 days from ictus were included. Two readers rated the NCCT and CTP for evidence of acute infarct and its vascular territory. CTP selectively covered 24 mm of brain centered at the basal ganglia with low relative cerebral blood volume in a region of low cerebral blood flow or elevated time to peak as the operational definition for infarction. A third reader rated all follow-up DWI for acute infarct and its vascular territory as the reference standard. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated. An exact McNemar test and generalized estimating equations from a binary logistic regression model were used to assess the difference in detection rates between modalities. A two-sided p value <0.05 was considered significant.

Results: 100 patients were included. Sixty-five (65%) patients had follow-up DWI confirmation of acute infarct. NCCT revealed 17 (26.2%) acute infarcts without false positives. CTP revealed 42 (64.6%) acute infarcts with one false positive. Of the 23 infarcts missed on CTP, 10 (43.5%) were outside the volume of coverage while the remaining 13 (56.5%) were small cortical or lacunar type infarcts (<or=15 mm in size). CTP was significantly more sensitive (64.6 vs. 26.2%, p < 0.0001) and accurate (76.0 vs. 52%, p < 0.0001) and had a better negative predictive value (59.6 vs. 42.2%, p = 0.032) than NCCT.

Conclusion: In a retrospective cohort of 100 patients with symptoms of hyperacute stroke in the 3-hour window, CTP provided improved sensitivity and accuracy over NCCT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perfusion Imaging*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke / drug therapy
  • Stroke / pathology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Young Adult


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator