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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The future of ischemic stroke: flow from prehospital neuroprotection to definitive reperfusion.

  • Author(s): Ip, Hing Lung
  • Liebeskind, David S
  • et al.

Published Web Location

Recent advances in ischemic stroke enable a seamless transition of the patient flow from the prehospital setting to definitive reperfusion, without the arbitrary separation of therapeutic phases of ischemia based on time alone. In 2013, the framework to understand and directly address the pathophysiology of cerebral blood flow that determines the timeline or evolution of ischemia in an individual case is given. This continuum of flow and the homeostasis of brain perfusion balanced by collaterals may be captured with serial imaging. Ongoing imaging core laboratory activities permit large-scale measurement of angiographic and tissue biomarkers of ischemia. Prehospital neuroprotection has become a reality and may be combined with revascularization therapies. Recent studies confirm that image-guided thrombolysis may be achieved without restrictive time windows. Baseline imaging patterns may be used to predict response to therapy and serial imaging may discern recanalization and reperfusion. Advanced techniques, such as arterial spin-labeled MRI, may also report hyperperfusion associated with hemorrhagic transformation. Endovascular therapies, including novel stent retriever devices, may augment revascularization and angiographic core laboratories may define optimal reperfusion. Serial evaluation of collaterals and reperfusion may identify definitive reperfusion linked with good clinical outcome rather than imposing arbitrary definitions of effective recanalization. Reperfusion injury and hemorrhagic transformation of various types may be detailed to explain clinical outcomes. Similar approaches may be used in intracranial atherosclerosis where flow, and not the degree of luminal stenosis, is paramount. Fractional flow may now be measured with computational fluid dynamics to identify high-risk lesions that require revascularization to restore the equilibrium of antegrade and collateral perfusion. Serial perfusion imaging of such cases may also illustrate inadequate cerebral blood volume gradients that may be more informative than blood flow delay alone. In sum, the growing understanding of collateral perfusion throughout all stages of ischemic stroke provides a framework for the future of ischemic stroke.

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