Capsular warning syndrome: clinical analysis and treatment

BMC Neurol. 2019 Nov 13;19(1):285. doi: 10.1186/s12883-019-1522-0.


Background: Capsular warning syndrome (CWS) is a rare clinical syndrome, which is defined as a recurrent transient lacunar syndrome. The mechanism and clinical management of CWS remain unclear. The aim of the study was to discuss the clinical characteristics of CWS and evaluate the different outcome between rt-PA and no rt-PA therapy.

Methods: The present multicenter retrospective study involved three medical centers, and the clinical data were collected from patients with CWS between January 2013 and December 2018. The clinical characteristics of CWS were analyzed. Patients were divided into two groups: rt-PA and no rt-PA groups. The therapeutic effects and prognosis of these two groups were analyzed. A good prognosis was defined as 3-month modified Rankin Scale (mRS) ≤ 2.

Results: Our study included 72 patients, 27 patients were assigned to rt-PA group, 45 in no rt-PA group. Hypertension and dyslipidemia were the most common risk factors. The mean number of episodes before irreversible neurological impairment or the symptoms completely disappeared was five times (range: 3-11 times). A total of 58 (80.55%) patients had acute infarction lesions on the diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). The most common infarct location was the internal capsule (41,70.69%), followed by the thalamus and pons. The difference in therapeutic effects between the rt-PA, single and double antiplatelet groups was not statistically significant (P > 0.05). A good prognosis was observed in 61 (84.72%) patients after 3 months, in which 23 (23/27, 85.19%) patients were from the rt-PA group and 38 (38/45,84.44%) patients were from the no rt-PA group (P > 0.05). After 3 months of follow-up, two patients had recurrent ischemic stroke.

Conclusion: The most effective treatment of CWS remains unclear. Intravenous thrombolysis is safe for CWS patients. Regardless of the high frequency of infarction in CWS patients, more than 80% patients had a favorable functional prognosis.

Keywords: Antiplatelet therapy; Capsular warning syndrome; Clinical characteristics, transient ischemic attack; Thrombolysis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / drug therapy
  • Stroke, Lacunar / drug therapy*
  • Stroke, Lacunar / pathology*
  • Syndrome
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator