Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging for predicting the clinical outcome of comatose survivors after cardiac arrest: a cohort study

Crit Care. 2010;14(1):R17. doi: 10.1186/cc8874. Epub 2010 Feb 12.


Introduction: The aim of this study was to examine whether the patterns of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) abnormalities and quantitative regional apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values can predict the clinical outcome of comatose patients following cardiac arrest.

Methods: Thirty-nine patients resuscitated from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest were prospectively investigated. Within five days of resuscitation, axial DWIs were obtained and ADC maps were generated using two 1.5-T magnetic resonance scanners. The neurological outcomes of the patients were assessed using the Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score at three months after the cardiac arrest. The brain injuries were categorised into four patterns: normal, isolated cortical injury, isolated deep grey nuclei injury, and mixed injuries (cortex and deep grey nuclei). Twenty-three subjects with normal DWIs served as controls. The ADC and percent ADC values (the ADC percentage as compared to the control data from the corresponding region) were obtained in various regions of the brains. We analysed the differences between the favourable (GOS score 4 to 5) and unfavourable (GOS score 1 to 3) groups with regard to clinical data, the DWI abnormalities, and the ADC and percent ADC values.

Results: The restricted diffusion abnormalities in the cerebral cortex, caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus were significantly different between the favourable (n = 13) and unfavourable (n = 26) outcome groups. The cortical pattern of injury was seen in one patient (3%), the deep grey nuclei pattern in three patients (8%), the cortex and deep grey nuclei pattern in 21 patients (54%), and normal DWI findings in 14 patients (36%). The cortex and deep grey nuclei pattern was significantly associated with the unfavourable outcome (20 patients with unfavourable vs. 1 patient with favourable outcomes, P < 0.001). In the 22 patients with quantitative ADC analyses, severely reduced ADCs were noted in the unfavourable outcome group. The optimal cutoffs for the mean ADC and the percent ADC values determined by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis in the cortex, caudate nucleus, putamen, and thalamus predicted the unfavourable outcome with sensitivities of 67 to 93% and a specificity of 100%.

Conclusions: The patterns of brain injury in early diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) (less than or equal to five days after resuscitation) and the quantitative measurement of regional ADC may be useful for predicting the clinical outcome of comatose patients after cardiac arrest.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coma / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Survivors