Objective: Better prediction of tissue prognosis in acute stroke might improve treatment decisions. We hypothesized that there are metabolic ischemic disturbances measurable noninvasively by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((HMRS)-H-1) that occur earlier than any structural changes visible on diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI), which may therefore serve for territorial identification of tissue at risk.
Methods: We performed multivoxel H-1 MRS plus DTI within a maximum of 26 hours, and DTI at 3-7 days, after ischemic stroke. We compared choline, lactate, N-acetylaspartate, and creatine concentrations in normal-appearing voxels that became infarcted (infarct expansion) with normal-appearing voxels around the infarct that remained “healthy” (nonexpansion) on follow-up DTI. Each infarct expansion voxel was additionally classified as either complete infarct expansion (infarcted tissue on follow-up DTI covered >= 50% of the voxel) or partial infarct expansion (<50% of voxel). Results: In 31 patients (NIH Stroke Scale score 0-28), there were 108 infarct nonexpansion voxels and 113 infarct expansion voxels (of which 80 were complete expansion and 33 partial expansion voxels). Brain choline concentration increased for each change in expansion category from nonexpansion, via partial expansion to complete expansion (2,423, 3,843, 4,158 IU; p<0.05). Changes in lactate, N-acetylaspartate, and creatine concentrations in expansion category were insignificant although for lactate there was a tendency to such association. Conclusions: Choline concentration measurable with H-1 MRS was elevated in peri-ischemic normal-appearing brain that became infarcted by 3-7 days. The degree of elevation was associated with the amount of infarct expansion. 1H MRS might identify DTI-normal-appearing tissue at risk of conversion to infarction in early stroke. Neurology (R) 2010; 75: 850-856