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Stroke. 2008 Nov;39(11):3110-5. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.518415. Epub 2008 Aug 14.

Proposal for a universal definition of cerebral infarction.

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Stroke Center and the Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.



Cerebral infarction is a leading cause of disability and death worldwide but has no uniform international definition.


Recent diagnostic advances have revised fundamental concepts in cerebral and cardiac ischemia. Cardiologists, already possessed of a nosologic framework distinguishing myocardial infarction from unstable angina on the basis of tissue state, promulgated a new "universal" tissue definition of myocardial infarction incorporating insights afforded by assays of cardiac troponin, a serum biomarker exquisitely sensitive to myocardial injury. Concurrently, vascular neurologists proposed a new tissue, rather than time, criterion to distinguish transient ischemia attack from cerebral infarction, responding to perspectives provided by diffusion MRI and cerebral blood volume CT, imaging biomarkers highly sensitive to neuronal injury. To complete this conceptual realignment, vascular neurology must now advance a clear, uniform, and operationalizable tissue definition of cerebral infarction. This review proposes cerebral infarction be defined as brain or retinal cell death due to prolonged ischemia. This definition categorizes both pannecrosis and neuronal dropout ("complete" and "incomplete" infarcts in classic neuropathologic terminology) as cerebral infarcts. Making the presence of any neuronal or glial cell death essential yields a definition of cerebral infarction that has high relevance to patients, physicians, and policymakers; is more easily applied in clinical practice; fosters action in acute care; harmonizes with myocardial ischemia classification; and focuses diagnostic evaluation on the cause of brain ischemia and the occurrence of end organ injury.


The term cerebral infarction should be used when there is evidence of brain or retinal cell death due to cerebral ischemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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