Absence of Collaterals is Associated with Larger Infarct Volume and Worse Outcome in Patients with Large Vessel Occlusion and Mild Symptoms

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2019 Jul;28(7):1987-1992. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2019.03.032. Epub 2019 Apr 26.


Background: Mechanical thrombectomy is the standard of care for patients with large vessel occlusion (LVO) presenting with severe symptoms; however, little is known about the best treatment for patients with LVO and mild symptoms. The absence of good collaterals has been associated with a worse outcome in patients with LVO. In this study, we aim to assess the use of collateral score to identify patients with LVO and mild symptoms that might benefit from mechanical thrombectomy (MT).

Methods: A retrospective review of prospectively collected data on patients presenting with mild ischemic stroke (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] <6) and anterior circulation LVO between September 2015 and July 2017 was performed. Collected data included baseline demographics, NIHSS on admission, Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score (ASPECTS), location of occlusion, collateral score using Tan scoring system, final infarct volume, and 90-day modified Rankin Scale (mRS). Patients who underwent MT were excluded from this analysis. Two multivariable models were used to assess outcomes. A gamma distributed generalized linear regression model with a log link was used to examine the impact on final infarct volume. To predict the odds of a positive 90-day outcome we estimated a logistic regression.

Results: Forty-one patients were identified. Mean age was 67.7-years with 56.1% males. Median NIHSS on admission was 3. The most common vessels involved were the middle cerebral artery (26), internal carotid artery (14), and anterior cerebral artery (1). Twelve patients received intravenous alteplase. Median ASPECTS score was 9, median collateral score was 2.3. Median infarct volume was 10.7 mL. A good functional outcome (mRS 0-2) at 90 days was achieved in 86.4% of patients. There was a negative relationship between collateral score and final infarct volume (-.3134, P = .046). Multivariable regression results showed that with a one-point increase in NIHSS on admission there was a 25% increase in final infarct volume. Higher infarct volume was associated with lower odds of achieving good functional outcome (mRS 0-2) (odds ratio .96, P = .049 [95% confidence interval .918-.999).

Conclusions: Most patients with anterior circulation LVO and low NIHSS achieve good long-term functional outcome, however, approximately 15% had significant disability. The absence of collaterals correlates with a larger final infarct volume and a worse long-term functional outcome. Collateral score might be a useful tool in identifying patients with LVO and low NIHSS who might benefit from MT.

Keywords: Acute stroke imaging; LVO; acute stroke management; cerebral blood flow; cerebral ischemia; collaterals; computed tomography angiography; infarct volume; large vessel occlusion; low NIHSS; mild stroke.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Infarction / drug therapy
  • Brain Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Angiography / methods
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation* / drug effects
  • Collateral Circulation* / drug effects
  • Computed Tomography Angiography
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arterial Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Arterial Diseases / drug therapy
  • Intracranial Arterial Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thrombolytic Therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator