Brain atrophy and endovascular treatment effect in acute ischemic stroke: a secondary analysis of the MR CLEAN trial

S.P.R. Luijten, K.C.J. Compagne, A.C.G.M. van Es, Y.B.W.E.M. Roos, C.B.L.M. Majoie, R.J. van Oostenbrugge, W.H. van Zwam, D.W.J. Dippel, F.J. Wolters, A. van der Lugt, D. Bos*, MR CLEAN Trial Investigators

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background Brain atrophy is suggested to impair the potential for functional recovery after acute ischemic stroke. We assessed whether the effect of endovascular treatment is modified by brain atrophy in patients with acute ischemic stroke due to large vessel occlusion. Methods We used data from MR CLEAN, a multicenter trial including patients with acute ischemic stroke due to anterior circulation large vessel occlusion randomized to endovascular treatment plus medical care (intervention) versus medical care alone (control). We segmented total brain volume (TBV) and intracranial volume (ICV) on baseline non-contrast computed tomography (n = 410). Next, we determined the degree of atrophy as the proportion of brain volume in relation to head size (1 - TBV/ICV) x 100%, analyzed as continuous variable and in tertiles. The primary outcome was a shift towards better functional outcome on the modified Rankin Scale expressed as adjusted common odds ratio. Treatment effect modification was tested using an interaction term between brain atrophy (as continuous variable) and treatment allocation. Results We found that brain atrophy significantly modified the effect of endovascular treatment on functional outcome (P for interaction = 0.04). Endovascular treatment led to larger shifts towards better functional outcome in the higher compared to the lower range of atrophy (adjusted common odds ratio, 1.86 [95% CI: 0.97-3.56] in the lowest tertile vs. 1.97 [95% CI: 1.03-3.74] in the middle tertile vs. 3.15 [95% CI: 1.59-6.24] in the highest tertile). Conclusion Benefit of endovascular treatment is larger in the higher compared to the lower range of atrophy, demonstrating that advanced atrophy should not be used as an argument to withhold endovascular treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17474930211054964
Pages (from-to)881-888
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of stroke
Issue number8
Early online date28 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Ischemic stroke
  • acute stroke therapy
  • CT scan

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