Benefits of perfusion MR imaging relative to diffusion MR imaging in the diagnosis and treatment of hyperacute stroke

Jeffrey L. Sunshine, Nicholas Bambakidis, Robert W. Tarr, Charles F. Lanzieri, Osama O. Zaidat, Jose I. Suarez, Dennis M.D. Landis, Warren R. Selman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The development of thrombolytic agents for use with compromised cerebral blood flow has made it critical to quickly identify those patients to best treat. We hypothesized that combined diffusion and perfusion MR imaging adds vital diagnostic value for patients for whom the greatest potential benefits exist and far exceeds the diagnostic value of diffusion MR imaging alone. METHODS: The cases of patients with neurologic symptoms of acute ischemic stroke who underwent ultra-fast emergent MR imaging within 6 hours were reviewed. In all cases, automatic processing yielded isotropic diffusion images and perfusion time-to-peak maps. Images with large vessel distribution ischemia and with mismatched perfusion abnormalities were correlated with patient records. All follow-up images were reviewed and compared with outcomes resulting from hyperacute therapies. RESULTS: For 16 (26%) of 62 patients, hypoperfusion was the best MR imaging evidence of disease distribution, and for 15 of the 16, hypoperfusion (not abnormal diffusion) comprised the only imaging evidence for disease involving large vessels. For seven patients, diffusion imaging findings were entirely normal, and for nine, diffusion imaging delineated abnormal signal in either small vessel distributions or in a notably smaller cortical branch in one case. In all cases, perfusion maps were predictive of eventual lesions, as confirmed by angiography, CT, or subsequent MR imaging. CONCLUSION: If only diffusion MR imaging is used in assessing patients with hyperacute stroke, nearly one quarter of the cases may be incorrectly categorized with respect to the distribution of ischemic at-risk tissue. Addition of perfusion information further enables better categorizing of vascular distribution to allow the best selection among therapeutic options and to improve patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-921
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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