To evaluate the frequency and clinical, topographic, and etiologic patterns of acute multiple infarction involving the anterior circulation.
Data analysis from a prospective acute stroke registry in a community-based primary care center.
Among 751 patients with first ischemic stroke in the anterior circulation over a 4-year period, 40 patients (5%) had acute multiple infarcts involving the anterior circulation. On computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium enhancement, there were four topographic patterns of infarction: (1) superficial infarcts (11 patients [28%]); (2) superficial and deep infarcts (12 patients [30%]); (3) deep infarcts (three patients [8%]); and (4) infarcts involving the anterior and the posterior circulation (14 patients [35%] ). Both cerebral hemispheres were involved in one fourth of the cases. A specific clinical picture was found in up to 20% of the patients. This included global aphasia with left hemianopia, hemisensory loss or hemiparesis (in right-handed patients), transcortical mixed aphasia with hemianopia, and acute pure cognitive impairment ("dementia"). Large-artery disease was found in 13 patients (33%); a cardiac source of embolism was found in 11 patients (28%); and both were found in three patients (8%). Bilateral infarcts were related to cardioembolism (four patients) and bilateral large-artery disease (three patients). One month after stroke, one fourth of the patients were independent, one third had some disability, and 40% were either dead or completely dependent.
Acute multiple infarcts involving the anterior circulation may be bilateral more frequently than is currently thought, and they are often associated with posterior circulation infarcts. They mainly involve the pial hemispheral territories, commonly being caused by cardioembolism or bilateral carotid atheroma. They may be associated with a specific neurologic-neuropsychological dysfunction pattern in up to one fifth of the patients, allowing diagnosis before brain imaging.