Effect of X-Ray Attenuation of Arterial Obstructions on Intravenous Thrombolysis and Outcome after Ischemic Stroke

IST-3 Collaborative Group, Grant Mair, Ruediger von Kummer, R. Lindley, Peter Sandercock, Joanna Wardlaw

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To assess whether the x-ray attenuation of intra-arterial obstruction measured on non-contrast CT in ischemic stroke can predict response to thrombolysis and subsequent functional outcome.


The Third International Stroke Trial (IST-3) was a multicenter randomized-controlled trial of intravenous thrombolysis (rt-PA) given within six hours of ischemic stroke. Ethical approval and informed consent were obtained. In a subgroup of 109 IST-3 patients (38 men, median age 82 years), a single reader, masked to all clinical and other imaging data, manually measured x-ray attenuation (Hounsfield Units, HU) on non-contrast CT at the location of angiographically-proven intra-arterial obstructions, pre-randomization and at 24–48 hour follow-up. We calculated change in attenuation between scans. We assessed the impact of pre-randomization arterial obstruction attenuation on six-month functional outcome.


Most arterial obstructions (64/109, 59%) were hyperattenuating (mean 51.0 HU). Compared with control, treatment with rt-PA was associated with a greater, but non-significant, reduction in obstruction attenuation at follow-up (-8.0 HU versus -1.4 HU in patients allocated control, p = 0.117). In multivariable ordinal regression analysis controlled for patient age, stroke severity, location and extent of obstruction, time from stroke onset to baseline scan and rt-PA treatment allocation, the attenuation of pre-randomization arterial obstruction was not independently associated with six-month outcome (odds ratio = 0.99, 95% confidence interval = 0.94–1.03, p = 0.516).


In ischemic stroke, the x-ray attenuation of the arterial obstruction may decline more rapidly from baseline to 24–48 hours following treatment with thrombolysis but we found no evidence that baseline arterial obstruction attenuation predicts six-month outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0145683
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2015


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