The heterogeneity of stroke makes outcome prediction difficult. Neuroimaging parameters may improve the predictive value of clinical measures such as the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS). We investigated whether the volume of early ischemic brain lesions assessed with diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) was an independent predictor of functional outcome.We retrospectively selected patients with nonlacunar ischemic stroke in the anterior circulation from 4 prospective Stanford Stroke Center studies evaluating early MRI. The baseline NIHSS score and ischemic stroke risk factors were assessed. A DWI MRI was performed within 48 hours of symptom onset. Clinical characteristics and early lesion volume on DWI were compared between patients with an independent outcome (Barthel Index score >/=85) and a dependent outcome (Barthel Index score <85) at 1 month. A logistic regression model was performed with factors that were significantly different between the 2 groups in univariate analysis.Sixty-three patients fulfilled the entry criteria. One month after symptom onset, 24 patients had a Barthel Index score <85 and 39 had a Barthel Index score >/=85. In univariate analysis, patients with independent outcome were younger, had lower baseline NIHSS scores, and had smaller lesion volumes on DWI. In a logistic regression model, DWI volume was an independent predictor of outcome, together with age and NIHSS score, after correction for imbalances in the delay between symptom onset and MRI.DWI lesion volume measured within 48 hours of symptom onset is an independent risk factor for functional independence. This finding could have implications for the design of acute stroke trials.
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