Background and Purpose- In patients with acute stroke, the occurrence of pneumonia has been associated with poor functional outcomes and an increased risk of death. We assessed the presence and consequences of signs of pulmonary infection on chest computed tomography (CT) before the development of clinically overt pneumonia. Methods- In 200 consecutive patients with acute ischemic stroke who had CT angiography from skull to diaphragm (including CT of the chest) within 24 hours of symptom onset, we assessed the presence of consolidation, ground-glass-opacity and the tree-in-bud sign as CT signs of pulmonary infection and assessed the association with the development of clinically overt pneumonia and death in the first 7 days and functional outcome after 90 days with logistic regression. Results- The median time from stroke onset to CT was 151 minutes (interquartile range, 84-372). Thirty patients (15%) had radiological signs of infection on admission, and 22 (11.0%) had a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia in the first 7 days. Patients with radiological signs of infection had a higher risk of developing clinically overt pneumonia (30% versus 7.6%; adjusted odds ratios, 4.2 [95% CI, 1.5-11.7]; P=0.006) and had a higher risk of death at 7 days (adjusted odds ratios, 3.7 [95% CI, 1.2-11.6]; P=0.02), but not at 90 days. Conclusions- About 1 in 7 patients with acute ischemic stroke had radiological signs of pulmonary infection within hours of stroke onset. These patients had a higher risk of clinically overt pneumonia or death. Early administration of antibiotics in these patients may lead to better outcomes.
Keywords: death; pneumonia; stroke; tomography.