The growth rate of early DWI lesions is highly variable and associated with penumbral salvage and clinical outcomes following endovascular reperfusion

Int J Stroke. 2015 Jul;10(5):723-9. doi: 10.1111/ijs.12436. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


Background: The degree of variability in the rate of early diffusion-weighted imaging expansion in acute stroke has not been well characterized.

Aim: We hypothesized that patients with slowly expanding diffusion-weighted imaging lesions would have more penumbral salvage and better clinical outcomes following endovascular reperfusion than patients with rapidly expanding diffusion-weighted imaging lesions.

Methods: In the first part of this substudy of DEFUSE 2, growth curves were constructed for patients with >90% reperfusion and <10% reperfusion. Next, the initial growth rate was determined in all patients with a clearly established time of symptom onset, assuming a lesion volume of 0 ml just prior to symptom onset. Patients who achieved reperfusion (>50% reduction in perfusion-weighted imaging after endovascular therapy) were categorized into tertiles according to their initial diffusion-weighted imaging growth rates. For each tertile, penumbral salvage [comparison of final volume to the volume of perfusion-weighted imaging (Tmax > 6 s)/diffusion-weighted imaging mismatch prior to endovascular therapy], favorable clinical response (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale improvement of ≥8 points or 0-1 at 30 days), and good functional outcome (90-day modified Rankin score of ≤2) were calculated. A multivariate model assessed whether infarct growth rates were an independent predictor of clinical outcomes.

Results: Sixty-five patients were eligible for this study; the median initial growth rate was 3·1 ml/h (interquartile range 0·7-10·7). Target mismatch patients (n = 42) had initial growth rates that were significantly slower than the growth rates in malignant profile (n = 9 patients, P < 0·001). In patients who achieved reperfusion (n = 38), slower early diffusion-weighted imaging growth rates were associated with better clinical outcomes (P < 0·05) and a trend toward more penumbral salvage (n = 31, P = 0·103). A multivariate model demonstrated that initial diffusion-weighted imaging growth rate was an independent predictor of achieving a 90-day modified Rankin score of ≤2.

Conclusions: The growth rate of early diffusion-weighted imaging lesions in acute stroke patients is highly variable; malignant profile patients have higher growth rates than patients with target mismatch. A slower rate of early diffusion-weighted imaging growth is associated with a greater degree of penumbral salvage and improved clinical outcomes following endovascular reperfusion.

Keywords: MRI; ischemic stroke; lesions; radiology; reperfusion; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Endovascular Procedures / instrumentation
  • Endovascular Procedures / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Reperfusion / methods*
  • Salvage Therapy / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome