Lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarct is poorly characterised. This single centre, retrospective study was conducted to describe the clinical characteristics of patients with lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarct and to identify clinical predictors of this variant of lacunar stroke.
A total of 146 patients with lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarction were included in the "Sagrat Cor Hospital of Barcelona Stroke Registry" during a period of 19 years (1986-2004). Data from stroke patients are entered in the stroke registry following a standardized protocol with 161 items regarding demographics, risk factors, clinical features, laboratory and neuroimaging data, complications and outcome. The characteristics of these 146 patients with lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarct were compared with those of the 733 patients with lacunar infarction.
Lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarct accounted for 16.6% (146/879) of all cases of lacunar stroke. Subtypes of lacunar syndromes included pure motor stroke in 63 patients, sensorimotor stroke in 51, pure sensory stroke in 14, atypical lacunar syndrome in 9, ataxic hemiparesis in 5 and dysarthria-clumsy hand in 4. Valvular heart disease, atrial fibrillation, sudden onset, limb weakness and sensory symptoms were significantly more frequent among patients with lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarct than in those with lacunar infarction, whereas diabetes was less frequent. In the multivariate analysis, atrial fibrillation (OR = 4.62), sensorimotor stroke (OR = 4.05), limb weakness (OR = 2.09), sudden onset (OR = 2.06) and age (OR = 0.96) were independent predictors of lacunar syndrome not due to lacunar infarct.
Although lacunar syndromes are highly suggestive of small deep cerebral infarctions, lacunar syndromes not due to lacunar infarcts are found in 16.6% of cases. The presence of sensorimotor stroke, limb weakness and sudden onset in a patient with atrial fibrillation should alert the clinician to the possibility of a lacunar syndrome not due to a lacunar infarct.