Background and purpose: The most important effect of cerebral ischemia is brain infarction. In this magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study, the authors aimed at assessing postischemic brain atrophy.
Methods: Ten patients suffering from their first acute cerebral ischemia in the territory of the middle cerebral artery were studied retrospectively. Three-dimensional MRI volume scans were recorded in the acute and chronic stage after infarction and analyzed voxel by voxel intraindividually with the newly developed voxel-guided morphometry.
Results: Shrinkage of brain tissue was detected in all patients, not only in the perilesional cortical structures but also in contralateral homolog cortex areas and subcortically in the striatum and thalamus. This secondary shrinkage was not related to the size of the infarcts or to the clinical outcome of patients.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that delayed brain atrophy after acute ischemic stroke involved areas anatomically connected with the ischemic brain lesion but nevertheless was accompanied by a simultaneous improvement of the neurological deficit.
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