Background and purpose: Acute onset aphasia may be due to stroke but also to other causes, which are commonly referred to as stroke mimics. We hypothesized that, in patients with acute isolated aphasia, distinct brain perfusion patterns are related to the cause and the clinical outcome. Herein, we analyzed the prognostic yield and the diagnostic usefulness of computed tomography perfusion (CTP) in patients with acute isolated aphasia.
Methods: From a single-center registry, we selected a cohort of 154 patients presenting with acute isolated aphasia who had a whole-brain CTP study available. We collected the main clinical and radiological data. We categorized brain perfusion studies on CTP into vascular and nonvascular perfusion patterns and the cause of aphasia as ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, stroke mimic, and undetermined cause. The primary clinical outcome was the persistence of aphasia at discharge. We analyzed the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of perfusion patterns to predict complete clinical recovery and ischemic stroke on follow-up imaging.
Results: The cause of aphasia was an ischemic stroke in 58 patients (38%), transient ischemic attack in 3 (2%), stroke mimic in 68 (44%), and undetermined in 25 (16%). CTP showed vascular and nonvascular perfusion pattern in 62 (40%) and 92 (60%) patients, respectively. Overall, complete recovery occurred in 116 patients (75%). A nonvascular perfusion pattern predicted complete recovery (sensitivity 75.9%, specificity 89.5%, positive predictive value 95.7%, and negative predictive value 54.8%), and a vascular perfusion pattern was highly predictive of ischemic stroke (sensitivity 94.8%, specificity 92.7%, positive predictive value 88.7%, and negative predictive value 96.7%). The 3 patients with ischemic stroke without a vascular perfusion pattern fully recovered at discharge.
Conclusions: CTP has prognostic value in the workup of patients with acute isolated aphasia. A nonvascular pattern is associated with higher odds of full recovery and may prompt the search for alternative causes of the symptoms.
Keywords: aphasia; brain; perfusion; specificity; tomography.