Development and reliability of the histological THROMBEX-classification rule for thrombotic emboli of acute ischemic stroke patients

Neurol Res Pract. 2021 Sep 20;3(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s42466-021-00149-6.


Background: Thrombus histology has become a potential diagnostic tool for the etiology assessment of patients with ischemic stroke caused by embolic proximal vessel occlusion. We validated a classification rule that differentiates between cardiac and arteriosclerotic emboli in individual stroke patients. We aim to describe in detail the development of this classification rule and disclose its reliability.

Methods: The classification rule is based on the hypothesis that cardiac emboli arise out of separation thrombi and arteriosclerotic emboli result from agglutinative thrombi. 125 emboli recovered by thrombectomy from stroke patients and 11 thrombi serving as references for cardiac (n = 5) and arteriosclerotic emboli (n = 6) were Hematoxylin and eosin, Elastica-van Gieson and CD61 stained and rated independently by two histopathologists blinded to the presumed etiology by several pre-defined criteria. Intra- and interobserver reliabilities of all criteria were determined. Out of the different criteria, three criteria with the most satisfactory reliability values were selected to compose the classification rule that was finally adjusted to the reference thrombi. Reliabilities of the classification rule were calculated by using the emboli of stroke patients.

Results: The classification rule reached intraobserver reliabilities for the two raters of 92.9% and 68.2%, respectively. Interobserver reliability was 69.9%.

Conclusions: A new classification rule for emboli obtained from thrombectomy was established. Within the limitations of histological investigations, it is reliable and able to distinguish between cardioembolic and arteriosclerotic emboli.

Keywords: Etiology; Histological classification; Ischemic stroke; Thrombotic emboli.