Background and purpose: Impairment of fiber integrity of the corticospinal tract in the subacute and chronic phases after ischemic stroke has been linked to poor motor outcome. The aim of the study was an assessment of fiber integrity in the acute poststroke phase and an evaluation of its association with the clinical course dependent on the infarction pattern (subtypes: peripheral versus basal ganglia infarction).
Materials and methods: All patients who underwent mechanical recanalization of a large-vessel occlusion in the anterior circulation and postinterventional DTI were included (n = 165). The fractional anisotropy index of the patient-specific corticospinal tract within the posterior limb of the internal capsule was correlated to clinical parameters (NIHSS scores/mRS at 90 days), and the interaction of stroke subtype (peripheral infarcts versus basal ganglia infarction) was tested in a moderation analysis.
Results: The fractional anisotropy index was reduced in the acute poststroke phase with a correlation to clinical presentation, especially in case of peripheral infarcts (eg, with the NIHSS motor subscore: r = -0.4, P < .001). This correlation was absent for basal ganglia infarction (r = -0.008, P > .05). There was a significant association between the fractional anisotropy index and clinical outcome (mRS after 90 days, P < .01), which is moderated by stroke subtype with significant effects only for peripheral infarcts.
Conclusions: Corticospinal tract abnormalities can be observed in the early stage after mechanical recanalization and have prognostic capacity. This finding increases the clinical value of early DTI imaging parameters. Because the effects observed were limited to peripheral infarcts, further and longitudinal evaluation of fiber integrities within basal ganglia infarction is required.
© 2021 by American Journal of Neuroradiology.