Intracranial atherosclerosis is associated with progression of neurological deficit in subcortical stroke

Hen Hallevi, Oleg Y. Chernyshev, Ramy El Khoury, Michael J. Soileau, Kyle C. Walker, James C. Grotta, Sean I. Savitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Progression of neurological deficit (PND) is a frequent complication of acute subcortical ischemic stroke (SCS). The role of intracranial atherosclerosis (IAS) in PND is controversial. Our goal was to evaluate IAS on admission, as predictor of PND in SCS patients. Methods: SCS patients were identified from our prospective database from 2004 to 2008. Clinical and laboratory data were collected from charts, and radiographic data from original radiographs. The proximal intracranial arteries were graded as patent, irregular, stenotic, or occlusion. IAS was defined as irregularity or stenosis. PND was defined as a change in the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale >1 point. Results: Two hundred and two SCS patients were identified. In 14%, PND occurred at a median of 2 days from onset. Univariate analysis by infarct location showed the following to be associated with PND: for anterior circulation infarcts (centrum semiovale/basal ganglia), M1 atherosclerosis (p = 0.042); for posterior circulation infarcts, vertebral artery atherosclerosis (p = 0.018). For both groups, we found a non-significant association with age (p = 0.2) and HbA1c levels (p = 0.095). No association was found with admission glucose levels. Multivariate analysis showed the following association with PND: for anterior circulation infarcts, M1 atherosclerosis (OR 4.7; 95% CI 1.2-18.8; p = 0.03); for pontine infarcts, vertebral artery atherosclerosis (OR 5.8; 95% CI 1.1-29.4; p = 0.033). There was an increase in PND likelihood with an increasing number of atherosclerotic vessels. Discussion: In our cohort of SCS patients, PND was associated with IAS of the responsible vessels. These results suggest a role for IAS in the pathogenesis of PNF in SCS patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-68
Number of pages5
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Ischemic stroke
  • Progression of neurological deficit
  • Subcortical stroke


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