Early infarction detected by diffusion-weighted imaging in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage

Acta Neurochir (2010) 152:1197–1205. DOI 10.1007/s00701-010-0640-7

Early infarction that occurs at the time of initial subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) due to rupture of an aneurysm is a poorly understood phenomenon. We investigate the frequency of early infarction using diffusion-weighted images (DWI) at the time of admission. We then discuss the pathogenesis of infarction.

Materials and methods This study included 85 SAH patients who underwent serial DWI on admission. Early infarction detected by DWI and clinical features were investigated retrospectively.

Results The overall incidence of DWI-detected early infarction at the time of SAH onset was 8% (7 of 85 cases). In all seven patients, early infarctions were asymptomatic on admission. Types of early infarction seen on DWI included infarcts occurring in the territory of the vessel harboring a ruptured aneurysm (solitary, three cases) and infarcts occurring outside the territory of the vessel (multiple, two cases; solitary, two cases). Six of seven patients eventually developed delayed ischemic neurological deficit (DIND) and computed tomography (CT)-detected and DWI-detected delayed extensive infarction. Four of seven patients with early infarction had an unfavorable outcome. The occurrence of DWI-detected early infarction on admission was significantly correlated with delayed angiographic vasospasm, DIND, CT-detected delayed infarction, DWI-detected delayed infarction, and unfavorable outcome.

Conclusions In the present study, DWI-detected early infarction at the time of SAH onset was correlated with the occurrence of delayed extensive ischemic lesions. We believe that performing DWI at the time of admission is useful for evaluating the primary ischemic insult, which might play an important role in the pathogenesis of early brain injury and delayed vasospasm-related complications.