Purpose: Thrombus perviousness has been associated with favorable functional outcome in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients. Measuring thrombus perviousness on CTA may be suboptimal due to potential delay in contrast agent arrival in occluded arteries at the moment of imaging. Dynamic sequences acquired over time can potentially overcome this issue. We investigate if dynamic CTA has added value in assessing thrombus perviousness.
Methods: Prospectively collected image data of AIS patients with proven occlusion of the anterior or posterior circulation with thin-slice multi-phase CTA (MCTA) and non-contrast CT were co-registered (n = 221). Thrombus attenuation increase (TAI; a perviousness measure) was measured for the arterial, venous, and delayed phase of the MCTA and time-invariant CTAs (TiCTA). Associations with favorable clinical outcome (90-day mRS ≤ 2) were assessed using univariate and multivariable regressions and calculating areas under receiver operating curves (AUC).
Results: TAI determined from the arterial phase CTA was superior in the association with favorable outcome with OR = 1.21 per 10 HU increase (95%CI 1.04-1.41, AUC 0.62, p = 0.014) compared to any other phase (venous 1.14(95%CI 1.01-1.30, AUC 0.58, p = 0.033), delayed 1.046(95%CI 0.919-1.19, AUC 0.53, p = 0.50)), and TiCTA (1.15(95%CI 1.02-1.30, AUC 0.60, p = 0.022). In the multivariable model, only TAI on arterial phase was significantly associated with favorable outcome (aOR 1.59, 95%CI 1.04-2.43, p = 0.032).
Conclusion: Association between TAI with functional outcome was optimal on arterial-phase CTA such that dynamic CTA imaging has no additional benefits in current thrombus perviousness assessment, thereby suggesting that the delay of contrast arrival at the clot is a key variable for patient functional outcome.
Keywords: Acute ischemic stroke; CT multi-phase; CTA; Thrombus characteristics; Thrombus permeability.