Computed tomographic parameters predicting fatal outcome in large middle cerebral artery infarction

Philip A. Barber, Andrew M. Demchuk, Jinjin Zhang, Scott E. Kasner, Michael D. Hill, Jorg Berrouschot, Erich Schmutzhard, Lutz Harms, Piero Verro, Derk Krieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Large middle cerebral artery (MCA) ischaemic stroke when associated with extensive mass effect can result in brain herniation and neurological death. As yet there are few guidelines to aid the selection of patients for aggressive interventional therapies, such as decompression hemicraniectomy and/or hypothermia. Methods: We studied a cohort of patients from seven centres with large MCA infarction requiring neurocritical care. The purpose of this analysis was to assess the use of early radiological signs on follow-up computed tomographic (CT) signs performed within 48 h of stroke onset for predicting mortality at 30 days. The CT parameters assessed included horizontal displacement of the septum pellucidum, pineal shift, complete or partial infarction of the temporal lobe, involvement of additional vascular territories, and the presence of hydrocephalus. The primary outcome measure was in-hospital death within 30 days. Results: One hundred and thirty-five patients who had follow-up CT scans within 48 h were identified from a total of 201 patients with large MCA infarction that received conventional medical therapy alone. The median age was 68 (range 29-99), 56% were female, and the median NIHSS category was 26-30 at 48 h. Among CT variables in univariable analysis, anteroseptal shift ≥5 mm, pineal shift ≥2 mm, complete temporal lobe infarction, involvement beyond the MCA territory, and moderate or severe hydrocephalus were equally predictive of death. Multivariable analysis adjusting for time to CT scan revealed the following predictors of fatal outcome: anteroseptal shift ≥5 mm (OR 10.9; 95% CI 3.2-37.6), NIHSS within 48 h >20 (OR 6.6; 95% CI 2.3-19.3), and infarction beyond the MCA territory (OR 4.9; 95% CI 1.6-15.0). Conclusions: We identified the role of early CT signs in predicting death following massive MCA infarction. The CT parameters anteroseptal shift (>5 versus ≤5 mm), pineal shift ≥2 mm, hydrocephalus, temporal lobe infarction, and other vascular territory infarction if present were predictive of fatal outcome. These CT parameters require prospective validation before they should be considered reliable markers for decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-235
Number of pages6
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


  • Computed tomography
  • Hemicraniectomy, mortality
  • Middle cerebral artery infarction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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