Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) remains a serious complication in ischemic stroke patients undergoing systemic thrombolysis. Here, we examined whether the risk of treatment-associated hemorrhage can be predicted from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) using fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) within 3 h after symptom onset.
In this single-center observational study involving 122 ischemic stroke patients between January 2005 and December 2008, the incidence of FLAIR-positive lesions within diffusion-restricted areas was determined on baseline MRI, which was carried out prior to treatment with tissue plasminogen activator (Actilyse®) within 3 h from symptom onset. The rate of ICH was assessed by computed tomography performed within 24 h after treatment. Relationships between FLAIR-positive lesions, DWI lesion size, proportion of FLAIR/DWI-positive lesions, and occurrence of bleeding were explored.
Data from 97 patients were evaluated. FLAIR-positive lesions were present in 25 patients (25.8%) and ICH occurred in 32 patients (33.0%). FLAIR-positive lesions were associated with a bleeding rate of 80.0% compared with 16.7% in FLAIR-negative patients (P < 0.001; odds ratio 20.0, positive predictive value 0.8). DWI lesion size was significantly correlated with the rate of ICH (P = 0.001). In contrast, FLAIR/DWI proportion was not associated with ICH (P = 0.788).
In ischemic stroke patients within 3 h from symptom onset, the existence of FLAIR-positive lesions on pretreatment MRI is significantly associated with an increased bleeding risk due to systemic thrombolysis. Therefore, considering FLAIR-positive lesions on baseline MRI might guide treatment decisions in ischemic stroke.