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Stroke. 1998 Jun;29(6):1144-8.

Early spontaneous improvement and deterioration of ischemic stroke patients. A serial study with transcranial Doppler ultrasonography.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Sciences, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.



The purpose of our study was to investigate whether emergency transcranial Doppler (TCD) findings and their modifications over the first 48 hours are related to early neurological changes in acute ischemic stroke patients.


Ninety-three patients underwent CT scan within 5 hours of a first-ever ischemic hemispheric stroke, and TCD serial examinations at 6, 24, and 48 hours after stroke onset. We classified TCD findings as follows: normal; middle cerebral artery (MCA) asymmetry (asymmetry index between affected and contralateral MCAs below -21%); and MCA no-flow (absence of flow signal from the affected MCA in the presence of ipsilateral anterior and posterior cerebral artery signals through the same acoustic window). We considered early deterioration and early improvement to be a decrease or an increase of 1 or more points, respectively, in the Canadian Neurological Scale score over the same period.


At 6-hour TCD examination, MCA asymmetry and MCA no-flow were present in 6 (22%) and 2 (7%), respectively, of 27 improving patients; in 20 (43%) and 10 (22%) of 46 stable patients, and in 9 (45%) and 8 (40%) of 20 deteriorating patients. TCD findings were normal in the remaining patients (P = 0.001). At serial TCD, we detected early (within 24 hours) recanalization (from no-flow to asymmetry or normal and from asymmetry to normal) in 2 (25%) improving patients, in 7 (23%) stable patients, and in 5 (29%) deteriorating patients and late (between 24 and 48 hours) recanalization in 4 (50%) improving patients, in 6 (20%) stable patients, and in none of the deteriorating patients (P = 0.03, chi 2 for trend, improving versus nonimproving irrespective of the timing of recanalization). One deteriorating patient (5%) developed a non-flow from an initial MCA asymmetry. Logistic regression selected normal TCD (odds ratio [OR], 0.17; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.06 to 0.46) as an independent predictor of early improvement and abnormal TCD (asymmetry plus no-flow) (OR, 5.02; 95% CI, 1.31 to 19.3) as an independent predictor of early deterioration.


TCD examination within 6 hours after stroke can help to predict both early deterioration and early improvement. Serial TCD shows that propagation of arterial occlusion is rarely related to early deterioration, whereas the fact that it can detect early recanalization (within 24 hours) in deteriorating patients and both early and late recanalization (after 24 hours) in improving patients suggests the existence of individual time frames for tissue recovery.

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