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Within-lesion heterogeneity of subcortical DWI lesion evolution, and stroke outcome: A voxel-based analysis.

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2019 Jul 25:271678X19865916. doi: 10.1177/0271678X19865916. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Duering M Adam R, Wollenweber FA, Bayer-Karpinska A, Baykara E, Cubillos-Pinilla LY, Gesierich B, Araque Caballero MÁ, Stoecklein S, Ewers M, Pasternak O, Dichgans M.
Publication Date: 2019



The fate of subcortical diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) lesions in stroke patients is highly variable, ranging from complete tissue loss to no visible lesion on follow-up. Little is known about within-lesion heterogeneity and its relevance for stroke outcome. Patients with subcortical stroke and recruited through the prospective DEDEMAS study (NCT01334749) were examined at baseline (n = 45), six months (n = 45), and three years (n = 28) post-stroke. We performed high-resolution structural MRI including DWI. Tissue fate was determined voxel-wise using fully automated tissue segmentation. Within-lesion heterogeneity at baseline was assessed by free water diffusion imaging measures. The majority of DWI lesions (66%) showed cavitation on six months follow-up but the proportion of tissue turning into a cavity was small (9 ± 13.5% of the DWI lesion). On average, 69 ± 25% of the initial lesion resolved without any visually apparent signal abnormality. The extent of cavitation at six months post-stroke was independently associated with clinical outcome, i.e. modified Rankin scale score at six months (OR = 4.71, p = 0.005). DWI lesion size and the free water-corrected tissue mean diffusivity at baseline independently predicted cavitation. In conclusion, the proportion of cavitating tissue is typically small, but relevant for clinical outcome. Within-lesion heterogeneity at baseline on advanced diffusion imaging is predictive of tissue fate.

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