CT for Treatment Selection in Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Code Stroke Primer.
Radiographics. 2019 Oct;39(6):1717-1738. doi: 10.1148/rg.2019190142.
Potter CA, Vagal AS, Goyal M, Nunez DB, Leslie-Mazwi TM, Lev MH.
CT is the primary imaging modality used for selecting appropriate treatment in patients with acute stroke. Awareness of the typical findings, pearls, and pitfalls of CT image interpretation is therefore critical for radiologists, stroke neurologists, and emergency department providers to make accurate and timely decisions regarding both (a) immediate treatment with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator up to 4.5 hours after a stroke at primary stroke centers and (b) transfer of patients with large-vessel occlusion (LVO) at CT angiography to comprehensive stroke centers for endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) up to 24 hours after a stroke. Since the DAWN and DEFUSE 3 trials demonstrated the efficacy of EVT up to 24 hours after last seen well, CT angiography has become the operational standard for rapid accurate identification of intracranial LVO. A systematic approach to CT angiographic image interpretation is necessary and useful for rapid triage, and understanding common stroke syndromes can help speed vessel evaluation. Moreover, when diffusion-weighted MRI is unavailable, multiphase CT angiography of collateral vessels and source-image assessment or perfusion CT can be used to help estimate core infarct volume. Both have the potential to allow distinction of patients likely to benefit from EVT from those unlikely to benefit. This article reviews CT-based workup of ischemic stroke for making tPA and EVT treatment decisions and focuses on practical skills, interpretation challenges, mimics, and pitfalls.©RSNA, 2019.
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