Neurological deterioration (ND) is a devastating complication following ischemic stroke. This study aimed to identify the differences in lesion characteristics in subacute ischemic stroke patients with and without ND using diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI), as well as to confirm the responsible lesions that may lead to ND, as assessed by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score. Seventy-nine patients with subacute cerebral infarction were allocated to the ND (-) and ND (+) groups according to the NIHSS score and lesion number. The mean diffusion (MD) lesions were significantly larger than the mean kurtosis (MK) deficits in the ND (+) group (P<0.05); however, there was no significant difference in the ND (-) group (P>0.05). The MD and MK in the lesion recovered to normal levels over time; however, the recovery trends in the ND (+) group were substantially slower than the ND (-) group. The differences between the two groups were only significant regarding the MK (p<0.05). Furthermore, multiple infarction lesions exhibited good consistency in the ND (-) group, but were non-homogeneous in the ND (+) group. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that a significant MD/MK mismatch and heterogeneity of multiple ischemic lesions on MK in subacute ischemic stroke may represent a new expansion of an ischemic lesion or acute reinfarction, which is closely related to ND.
Keywords: Diffusion; Ischemia; Kurtosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; NIHSS score; Stroke.
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