Leukoaraiosis severity and post-reperfusion outcomes in acute ischaemic stroke: A meta-analysis

Acta Neurol Scand. 2022 Feb;145(2):171-184. doi: 10.1111/ane.13519. Epub 2021 Aug 21.


Objectives: Severity of leukoaraiosis may mediate outcomes after reperfusion therapy in acute ischaemic stroke (AIS) patients. However, the level of the association remains poorly understood. We performed a meta-analysis to investigate the impact of leukoaraiosis severity on functional outcome, survival, haemorrhagic complications, and procedural success in AIS patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis and/or endovascular thrombectomy.

Materials and methods: PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane library were searched for studies on leukoaraiosis in AIS receiving reperfusion therapy. A random-effects meta-analysis was conducted for post-reperfusion outcomes in AIS patients with absent-to-mild leukoaraiosis and moderate-to-severe leukoaraiosis. The strength of association between moderate-to-severe leukoaraiosis and poor outcomes was quantified using odds ratios (OR).

Results: A total of 15 eligible studies involving 6460 patients (1451 with moderate-to-severe leukoaraiosis and 5009 with absent-to-mild leukoaraiosis) were included in the meta-analysis. Moderate-to-severe leukoaraiosis was significantly associated with poor 90-day functional outcome (OR 3.16; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.69-3.72; p < .0001), 90-day mortality (OR 3.11; 95% CI 2.27-4.26; p < .0001) and increased risk of symptomatic intracerebral haemorrhage (OR 1.69; 95% CI 1.24-2.32; p = .001) after reperfusion therapy. Overall, no significant association of leukoaraiosis severity with haemorrhagic transformation (HT) and angiographic recanalization status were observed. However, subgroup analysis revealed a significant association of WML severity with HT in patients receiving EVT.

Conclusion: Leukoaraiosis is a useful prognostic biomarker in AIS. Patients with moderate-to-severe leukoaraiosis on baseline imaging are likely to have worse clinical and safety outcomes after reperfusion therapy.

Keywords: Leukoaraiosis; acute ischaemic stroke; cerebrovascular disease; meta-analysis; safety outcomes; thrombectomy; thrombolysis; white matter lesions.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Brain Ischemia* / complications
  • Brain Ischemia* / drug therapy
  • Endovascular Procedures*
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke*
  • Leukoaraiosis*
  • Reperfusion
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Thrombolytic Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome