Objective: To evaluate the usefulness of pre- and post-therapeutic computed tomographic (CT) findings in predicting hemorrhagic complications, we retrospectively examined 35 patients treated with intra-arterial thrombolytic therapy for middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion.
Methods: The presence or absence of early CT findings (loss of the insular ribbon, obscuration of the lentiform nucleus, and cortical effacement) and the presence and location of extravasation of contrast medium were evaluated on pre- and post-therapeutic CT scans, respectively. According to the angiographic occlusive site, the patients were classified into the following three groups: Group 1 (n = 13), MCA trunk occlusion involved lenticulostriate arteries; Group 2 (n = 11), occlusion of the MCA trunk without involvement of the lenticulostriate arteries; Group 3 (n = 11), occlusion of a branch of the MCA. Hemorrhagic complications (hemorrhagic transformation and/or massive brain swelling) were evaluated by reviewing CT scans obtained 3 to 14 days after thrombolytic therapy.
Results: No patient without extravasation (n = 17) showed hemorrhagic complications, and extravasation is the most useful finding in predicting hemorrhagic complications. There was significant correlation between extravasation and hemorrhagic complications (P < 0.01). In Groups 1 and 2, there was also significant correlation between early CT findings and hemorrhagic complications (P < 0.01), indicating that early CT findings are also useful in predicting hemorrhagic complications. In Group 1, 10 of 13 (76.9%) patients had both early CT findings and extravasation, and 6 of these 10 patients had hemorrhagic complications with clinical deterioration, suggesting the difficulty of thrombolytic therapy in this group. On the contrary, in Group 2, 8 of 11 (72.7%) patients had neither early CT findings nor extravasation and none of these 8 patients had hemorrhagic complications. In Group 3, however, early CT findings and extravasation had no correlation. Because the affected area was small in this group, it was difficult to evaluate cortical effacement. Although negative early CT findings did not always mean absence of extravasation and hemorrhagic complications in this group, the patients with hemorrhagic complications did not clinically deteriorate because of the small affected area.
Conclusion: Hemorrhagic complications could be predicted by evaluation of angiographic occlusive site and pre- and post-therapeutic CT findings.