Hemorrhagic transformation of brain infarct: predictability in the first 5 hours from stroke onset and influence on clinical outcome

Neurology. 1996 Feb;46(2):341-5. doi: 10.1212/wnl.46.2.341.


Objective: To identify, in the first 5 hours of acute brain infarct, clinical and radiologic predictors of subsequent hemorrhagic transformation (HT), and to evaluate its influence on the clinical course.

Background: The identification of early predictors of HT might be important to plan antithrombotic or thrombolytic treatments.

Patients: One hundred fifty consecutive patients with cerebral anterior circulation infarct systematically underwent a first CT within 5 hours of onset. During the first week after stroke, we performed a repeat CT or autopsy to look for HT. Outcome measures were early neurologic deterioration within the first week of onset and 30-day case fatality rate and disability.

Results: HT was observed in 65 patients (43%): 58 (89%) had a petechial HT and seven (11%) a hematoma. Among initial clinical an CT findings, the only independent predictor of HT was early focal hypodensity. Its presence was associated with subsequent HT in 77% of cases (95% CI, 68 to 86%), whereas its absence predicted the absence of subsequent HT in 94% of cases (95% CI, 89 to 99%). No baseline clinical or CT characteristic differentiated patients with petechial HT from those with hematoma. Antithrombotic and antiplatelet agents did not influence the occurrence of either type of HT. The frequency of early neurologic deterioration and of 30-day death or disability in HT patients was twice as high as in those without HT. However, a large-sized infarct and the presence of mass effect at the repeat CT or autopsy were the only factors independently linked to both the outcome events, irrespective of the development of HT. Clinical evolution of HT patients given antithrombotics was comparable with that of HT patients not receiving these drugs.

Conclusions: HT of a brain infarct is a common event that occurs independently of anticoagulation and can be reliably predicted as early as 5 hours from stroke onset by the presence of focal hypodensity at CT. Apart from the infrequent cases of massive hematoma, HT does not influence prognosis, whereas a poor outcome in HT patients is correlated with a higher frequency of large edematous infarcts in this subgroup. The clinical course and final outcome of HT in anticoagulated patients does not differ from that of non-anticoagulated HT patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / prevention & control
  • Cerebral Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Infarction / drug therapy*
  • Cerebral Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors