The goal of acute stroke treatment with intravenous thrombolysis or endovascular recanalization techniques is to rescue the penumbral tissue. Therefore, knowing the factors that influence the loss of penumbral tissue is of major interest. In this study we aimed to identify factors that determine the evolution of the penumbra in patients with proximal (M1 or M2) middle cerebral artery occlusion. Among these factors collaterals as seen on angiography were of special interest. Forty-four patients were included in this analysis. They had all received endovascular therapy and at least minimal reperfusion was achieved. Their penumbra was assessed with perfusion- and diffusion-weighted imaging. Perfusion-weighted imaging volumes were defined by circular singular value decomposition deconvolution maps (Tmax > 6 s) and results were compared with volumes obtained with non-deconvolved maps (time to peak > 4 s). Loss of penumbral volume was defined as difference of post- minus pretreatment diffusion-weighted imaging volumes and calculated in per cent of pretreatment penumbral volume. Correlations between baseline characteristics, reperfusion, collaterals, time to reperfusion and penumbral volume loss were assessed using analysis of covariance. Collaterals (P = 0.021), reperfusion (P = 0.003) and their interaction (P = 0.031) independently influenced penumbral tissue loss, but not time from magnetic resonance (P = 0.254) or from symptom onset (P = 0.360) to reperfusion. Good collaterals markedly slowed down and reduced the penumbra loss: in patients with thrombolysis in cerebral infarction 2 b-3 reperfusion and without any haemorrhage, 27% of the penumbra was lost with 8.9 ml/h with grade 0 collaterals, whereas 11% with 3.4 ml/h were lost with grade 1 collaterals. With grade 2 collaterals the penumbral volume change was -2% with -1.5 ml/h, indicating an overall diffusion-weighted imaging lesion reversal. We conclude that collaterals and reperfusion are the main factors determining loss of penumbral tissue in patients with middle cerebral artery occlusions. Collaterals markedly reduce and slow down penumbra loss. In patients with good collaterals, time to successful reperfusion accounts only for a minor fraction of penumbra loss. These results support the hypothesis that good collaterals extend the time window for acute stroke treatment.
Keywords: acute stroke; penumbra, tissue loss; time; time window.