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Use of MRI to predict symptomatic haemorrhagic transformation after thrombolysis for cerebral ischaemia


Background and objective Predictors of symptomatic haemorrhagic transformation (s-HT) of cerebral ischaemia after intravenous recombinant tissue-plasminogen activator (rt-PA) were identified in studies using CT scans. We evaluated whether MRI can identify other predictors.

Method We analysed predictors of s-HT in a cohort of consecutive patients who received intravenous rt-PA for cerebral ischaemia after MRI at baseline. We used receiver operating characteristic curves considering an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.70 or higher as indicating acceptable discrimination.

Results Of 944 patients, 49 patients (5.2%) developed s-HT. Clinical factors independently associated with s-HT were age (adjusted OR (adjOR) 1.03 for 1 year increase; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.05), excessive alcohol consumption (adjOR 3.13; 95% CI 1.32 to 7.42), recent transient ischaemic attack (adjOR 2.88; 95% CI 1.04 to 7.95) and baseline national institutes of health stroke scale score (adjOR 1.06 for 1 point increase; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.10). MRI predictors were vascular hyperintensities (adjOR 3.89; 95% CI 1.50 to 10.08), old infarcts (adjOR 2.01; 95% CI 1.11 to 3.66) and volume of diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) abnormality (adjOR 1.02 for 1 cm3 increase; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.03). The only variable with an acceptable discrimination was volume of DWI abnormality (AUC 0.72; 95% CI 0.64 to 0.79), a value of 4 cm3 predicting s-HT with a 78% sensitivity and 58% specificity. Variables that can be assessed only with MRI did not predict s-HT.

Conclusion Although the volume of DWI abnormality predicts s-HT, other imaging characteristics that can only be assessed with MRI were not significantly associated with s-HT.

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