Imaging of occlusive thrombi in acute ischemic stroke

Int J Stroke. 2015 Apr;10(3):298-305. doi: 10.1111/ijs.12435. Epub 2014 Dec 25.


Thrombi, or clots, often occlude proximal segments of the cerebral arterial circulation in acute ischemic stroke. Thromboembolic occlusion or thrombi superimposed on atherosclerotic plaque are the principal focus of acute stroke therapies such as thrombolysis or thrombectomy. We review the imaging characteristics of thrombi on multimodal computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, angiography, and ultrasonography, summarizing recent studies that facilitate therapeutic decision-making from these noninvasive studies. Information about the location, size, and imaging characteristics can be ascertained using these techniques. Imaging findings in relation to occlusive thrombus have been correlated with clot pathology, response to therapeutic interventions, and clinical outcome. Diagnostic evaluation of occlusive thrombi on noninvasive studies now constitutes an integral component of acute stroke management.

Keywords: CT; MRI; collaterals; ischemic; stroke; thrombi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Ischemia / complications*
  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Stroke* / diagnosis
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Stroke* / therapy
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*