Open Access Open Badges Research article

Rapid identification of a major diffusion/perfusion mismatch in distal internal carotid artery or middle cerebral artery ischemic stroke

Reza Hakimelahi1, Albert J Yoo1, Julian He1, Lee H Schwamm2, Michael H Lev1, Pamela W Schaefer1 and Ramon Gilberto González1*

Author Affiliations

1 Neuroradiology Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02114, USA

2 Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02114, USA

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BMC Neurology 2012, 12:132  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-132

Published: 5 November 2012



We tested the hypothesis that in patients with occlusion of the terminal internal carotid artery and/or the proximal middle cerebral artery, a diffusion abnormality of 70 ml or less is accompanied by a diffusion/perfusion mismatch of at least 100%.


Sixty-eight consecutive patients with terminal ICA and/or proximal MCA occlusions and who underwent diffusion/perfusion MRI within 24 hours of stroke onset were retrospectively identified. DWI and mean transit time (MTT) volumes were measured. Prospectively, 48 consecutive patients were identified with the same inclusion criteria. DWI and time to peak (TTP) lesion volumes were measured. A large mismatch volume was defined as an MTT or TTP abnormality at least twice the DWI lesion volume.


In the retrospective study, 49 of 68 patients had a DWI lesion volume ≤ 70 ml (mean 20.2 ml; SEM 2.9 ml). A DWI/MTT mismatch of > 100% was observed in all 49 patients (P < .0001). In the prospective study, there were 35/48 patients with DWI volumes ≤ 70 ml (mean 18.7 ml; SEM 3.0 ml). A mismatch > 100% was present in all 35 (P < .0001).


Acute stroke patients with major anterior circulation artery occlusion are exceedingly likely to have a major diffusion/perfusion mismatch if the diffusion lesion volume is 70 ml or less. This suggests that physiology-based patient assessments may be made using only vessel imaging and diffusion MRI as a simple alternative to perfusion imaging.