Background and Purpose
Malignant middle cerebral artery (MCA) infarction is estimated to occur in 10% of ischemic strokes, but few patients undergo decompressive hemicraniectomy, a proven therapy. We determined the proportion of ischemic stroke patients without significant baseline disability with large MCA infarction who would have been potentially eligible for hemicraniectomy in an era before publication of recent hemicraniectomy trials.
Ischemic stroke cases that occurred in 2005 among residents of the five-county Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area were ascertained. Two study physicians reviewed all clinical and neuroimaging data for patients with baseline modified Rankin Score (mRS) <2, age ≥18 years with NIHSS ≥10. Large MCA infarction was defined as >50% of the MCA territory or >145mL on diffusion-weighted MRI. Other eligibility criteria for hemicraniectomy, based on the pooled analysis of recent clinical trials, were age 18–60 years and NIHSS >15.
Of 2227 ischemic strokes, 39(1.8%) with baseline mRS <2 had large MCA infarction. None underwent hemicraniectomy, and 16(41.0%) died within 30 days. Six patients (0.3% of all ischemic strokes) were potentially eligible for hemicraniectomy; one died within 30 days.
Based on criteria from clinical trials, only 0.3% of cases were eligible for hemicraniectomy. Given the survival and functional outcome benefit in treated patients, future studies should determine whether additional subgroups of ischemic stroke patients may benefit from hemicraniectomy.
Keywords: decompressive surgery, stroke care, epidemiology