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Neurology. 2012 Sep 25;79(13 Suppl 1):S86-94.

Application of acute stroke imaging: selecting patients for revascularization therapy.

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Department of Neurology, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.


Due to the dynamic and versatile characteristics of ischemic penumbra, selecting the right acute ischemic stroke (AIS) patients for revascularization therapy (RT) based on initial available imaging can be challenging. The main patient selection criterion for RT is the size of the mismatch between the potentially salvageable tissue (penumbra) and the irreversibly damaged tissue (core). The goal of revascularization RT is to "freeze" the core and prevent it from extending to the penumbral tissue. Penumbral imaging selection of AIS patients for RT, using magnetic resonance or CT-based studies, may provide more clinical benefit to the appropriate patients, although direct evidence is pending. Not all penumbra-core mismatches beyond 3 hours are equal and need treatment, and defining which mismatches to target for RT is the current goal of ongoing clinical trials. In addition to "penumbral"-based imaging, large vessel occlusion and clot length estimation based on CT angiography and noncontrasted ultrathin CT scan has been used to identify patients who are refractory to systemic thrombolysis and may be eligible for endovascular therapy. The application of various imaging modalities in selecting and triaging AIS patients for RT is discussed in this review. Larger prospective randomized trials are needed to better understand the role of various imaging modalities in selecting AIS patients for RT and to understand its influence on clinical outcome.

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