Neuroimaging Paradigms to Identify Patients for Reperfusion Therapy in Stroke of Unknown Onset

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Despite the proven efficacy of intravenous alteplase or endovascular thrombectomy for the treatment of patients with acute ischemic stroke, only a minority receive these treatments. This low treatment rate is due in large part to delay in hospital arrival or uncertainty as to the exact time of onset of ischemic stroke, which renders patients outside the current guideline-recommended window of eligibility for receiving these therapeutics. However, recent pivotal clinical trials of late-window thrombectomy now force us to rethink the value of a simplistic chronological formulation that "time is brain." We must recognize a more nuanced concept that the rate of tissue death as a function of time is not invariant, that still salvageable tissue at risk of infarction may be present up to 24 h after last-known well, and that those patients may strongly benefit from reperfusion. Multiple studies have sought to address this clinical dilemma using neuroimaging methods to identify a radiographic time-stamp of stroke onset or evidence of salvageable ischemic tissue and thereby increase the number of patients eligible for reperfusion therapies. In this review, we provide a critical analysis of the current state of neuroimaging techniques to select patients with unwitnessed stroke for revascularization therapies and speculate on the future direction of this clinically relevant area of stroke research.
Last updated on 11/27/2019