Disappearance of the hyperdense MCA sign after stroke thrombolysis: implications for prognosis and early patient selection for clot retrieval

P. Elofuke, J. M. Reid, Arnab Rana, M-J. Macleod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Disappearance of the hyperdense middle cerebral artery sign(HMCAS) following intravenous thrombolysis for ischaemic stroke is associatedwith improved outcome. Debate exists over which radiological thrombus characteristics can predict disappearance of the HMCAS after thrombolysis such as vessel attenuation or extent of thrombus length.Methods Ischaemic stroke patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis from our hospital were entered into a European registry. Patient demographics, stroke severity pre- and 24 hours post-thrombolysis were recorded. Patients with HMCAS were identified from the registry using records from 2010–2013. Images from the pre and post-thrombolysis computed tomography scan were measured.Thrombus characteristics (length and attenuation), extent of ischaemic change and clinical outcome (stroke severity and 3 month survival) were compared between patients with and without HMCAS disappearance. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of HMCAS disappearance.Results HMCAS was present in 88/315 (28%) of thrombolysed ischaemic stroke patients. 36/88 (41%) of patients had thrombus disappearance 24 hours after thrombolysis. HMCAS disappearance was associated with reduced stroke severity, less radiological ischaemic change, and higher 3 month survival (87% vs56%). Median thrombus length was shorter in the HMCAS disappearance group(11 vs 17 mm, p = 0.0004), but no significant difference in vessel attenuation was observed (48 vs 51 Hounsfield Units, p = 0.25). HMCAS disappearance occurred in 73% of cases where HMCAS length was < 10 mm, 38% when length was 10–20mm, and 21% if > 20 mm. Thrombus length was the only independent predictor of HMCAS disappearance (odds ratio 0.90 per mm; 95% CI 0.84-0.96, p = 0.01).Conclusion Disappearance of HMCAS is associated with better clinical and radiological outcomes. A shorter thrombus is more likely to disappear post thrombolysis.The data highlight the limitation of intravenous thrombolysis inpatients with longer hyperattenuated vessels, and the potential role for clot retrieval in such patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-86
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to Dr Carl Counsell for assistance with statistical analysis.


  • acute ischaemic stroke
  • computed tomography
  • hyperdense vessel
  • thrombolysis
  • outcome prediction


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