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September 1994

Spontaneous Reperfusion of Cerebral Infarcts in Patients With Acute Stroke: Incidence, Time Course, and Clinical Outcome in the Copenhagen Stroke Study

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology (Drs Jørgensen, Nakayama, and Olsen), Clinical Physiology/Nuclear Medicine (Dr Sperling), and Radiology (Dr Raaschou), Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Arch Neurol. 1994;51(9):865-873. doi:10.1001/archneur.1994.00540210037011

Objective:  To determine the incidence, time course, and clinical importance of spontaneous reperfusion of cerebral infarcts in patients with acute stroke.

Design:  Prospective, community based.

Setting:  Department of Neurology, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Patients:  Included in the incidence and time course study were 354 unselected patients with acute ischemic stroke. Clinical outcome was studied in a subgroup of 36 patients admitted on the day of stroke onset and in whom it was known whether spontaneous reperfusion occurred within the first week after stroke onset.

Measurements:  Computed tomography and single photon emission computed tomography, with technetium Tc 99m exametazime used as a flow tracer. The Scandinavian Stroke Scale neurologic score was determined on admission, 1 and 2 weeks after stroke, and at discharge.

Results:  The incidence of spontaneous reperfusion was 77% in patients with cortical infarcts. The frequency of reperfusion increased rapidly from zero at the time of onset to 60% on day 7 after stroke, reaching a maximum on day 14, at which time 77% showed reperfusion. Marked clinical improvement was observed in patients with spontaneous reperfusion (P=.001), while no improvement occurred in patients without reperfusion. Reperfusion was not observed in subcortical infarcts.

Conclusions:  The rate of spontaneous reperfusion increases gradually with time and occurs within the first 2 weeks after stroke onset in approximately four of five patients with cortical infarcts. Spontaneous reperfusion seemed to improve clinical outcome.

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