The Influence of Diffusion Weighted Imaging Lesions on Outcomes in Patients with Acute Spontaneous Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Neurocrit Care. 2020 Oct;33(2):552-564. doi: 10.1007/s12028-020-00933-3.


Background/objective: Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) lesions have been well described in patients with acute spontaneous intracerebral hemorrhage (sICH). However, there are limited data on the influence of these lesions on sICH functional outcomes. We conducted a prospective observational cohort study with blinded imaging and outcomes assessment to determine the influence of DWI lesions on long-term outcomes in patients with acute sICH. We hypothesized that DWI lesions are associated with worse modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 3 months after hospital discharge.

Methods: Consecutive sICH patients meeting study criteria were consented for an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain and evaluated for remote DWI lesions by neuroradiologists blinded to the patients' hospital course. Blinded mRS outcomes were obtained at 3 months. Logistic regression was used to determine significant factors (p < 0.05) associated with worse functional outcomes defined as an mRS of 4-6. The generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach was used to investigate the effect of DWI lesions on dichotomized mRS (0-3 vs 4-6) longitudinally.

Results: DWI lesions were found in 60 of 121 patients (49.6%). The presence of a DWI lesion was associated with increased odds for an mRS of 4-6 at 3 months (OR 5.987, 95% CI 1.409-25.435, p = 0.015) in logistic regression. Using the GEE model, patients with a DWI lesion were less likely to recover over time between 14 days/discharge and 3 months (p = 0.005).

Conclusions: DWI lesions are common in primary sICH, occurring in almost half of our cohort. Our data suggest that DWI lesions are associated with worse mRS at 3 months in good grade sICH and are predictive of impaired recovery after hospital discharge. Further research into the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying DWI lesions may lead to novel treatment options that may improve outcomes associated with this devastating disease.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cerebral hemorrhage; Cerebral infarction; Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; Outcome assessment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Brain Ischemia*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage* / diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies