Purpose: Hospital acquired pneumonia (HAP) is a major complication of stroke. We sought to determine associations between infarction of specific brain regions and HAP.
Methods: 215 consecutive acute stroke patients with HAP (2003-2009) were carefully matched with 215 non-pneumonia controls by gender, then NIHSS, then age. Admission imaging and binary masks of infarction were registered to MNI-152 space. Regional atlas and voxel-based log-odds were calculated to assess the relationship between infarct location and the likelihood of HAP. An independently validated penalized conditional logistic regression model was used to identify HAP associated imaging regions.
Results: The HAP and control patients were well matched by gender (100%), age (95% within 5-years), NIHSS (98% within 1-point), infarct size, dysphagia, and six other clinical variables. Right hemispheric infarcts were more frequent in patients with HAP versus controls (43.3% vs. 34.0%, p = 0.054), whereas left hemispheric infarcts were more frequent in controls (56.7% vs. 44.7%, p = 0.012); there was no significant difference between groups in the rate of brainstem strokes (p = 1.0). Of the 10 most infarcted regions, only right insular cortex volume was different in HAP versus controls (20 vs. 12 ml, p = 0.02). In univariate analyses, the highest log-odds regions for pneumonia were right hemisphere, cerebellum, and brainstem. The best performing multivariate model selected 7 brain regions of infarction and 2 infarct volume-based variables independently associated with HAP.
Conclusions: HAP is associated with right hemispheric peri-insular stroke. These associations may be related to autonomic modulation of immune mechanisms, supporting recent hypotheses of stroke mediated immune suppression.