Improving Clinical Detection of Acute Lacunar Stroke: Analysis From the IST-3

Stroke. 2020 May;51(5):1411-1418. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.028402. Epub 2020 Apr 9.


Background and Purpose- We aim to identify factors associated with imaging-confirmed lacunar strokes and improve their rapid clinical identification early after symptom onset using data from the IST-3 (Third International Stroke Trial). Methods- We selected patients likely to have lacunar infarcts as those presenting with: Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project lacunar syndrome; a random sample with National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score <7; and recent lacunar infarct identified on imaging by IST-3 central blinded expert panel. An independent reviewer rated brain scans of this sample and classified visible infarcts according to type, size, and location. We investigated factors associated with presence of lacunar infarct on a 24 to 48 hour follow-up scan using multivariable logistic regression and calculated sensitivity and specificity of Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project alone and in combination with NIHSS score <7. Results- We included 568 patients (330 lacunar syndrome; 147 with NIHSS score <7; 91 with lacunar infarct on baseline imaging, numbers exclude overlaps between groups), mean (±SD) age, 73.2 (±13.6) years, 316 (56%) males, and median NIHSS score 5 (IQR, 4-8). On 24 to 48 hour scan, 138 (24%) patients had lacunar infarcts, 176 (31%) other infarct subtypes, 254 (45%) no visible infarct. Higher baseline systolic blood pressure (odds ratio, 1.01 [95% CI, 1.01-1.02]) and preexisting lacunes (odds ratio, 2.29 [95% CI, 1.47-3.57) were associated with recent lacunar infarcts. Sensitivity and specificity of lacunar syndrome was modest (58% and 45%, respectively), but adding NIHSS score <7 increased specificity (99%), positive and negative predictive values (97% and 87%, respectively). Conclusions- In patients presenting within 6 hours of stroke onset, adding NIHSS score <7 to Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project lacunar syndrome classification may increase specificity for identifying lacunar stroke early after stroke onset. Our findings may help selection of patients for clinical trials of lacunar stroke and should be validated externally. Registration- URL:; Unique identifier: ISRCTN25765518.

Keywords: brain; diagnosis; lacunar; sensitivity; specificity; stroke.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke, Lacunar / diagnosis
  • Stroke, Lacunar / therapy*
  • Time Factors