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Cerebral infarct
Classification and external resources

CT scan slice of the brain showing a right-hemispheric cerebral infarct (left side of image).
ICD-10 I 63
ICD-9 434.01, 434.11, 434.91
eMedicine neuro/
MeSH D002544

A cerebral infarction is the ischemic kind of stroke due to a disturbance in the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. It can be atherothrombotic or embolic.[1] From stroke caused by cerebral infarction two other kinds of stroke should be distinguished: cerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. A cerebral infarction (stroke) occurs when a blood vessel that supplies a part of the brain becomes blocked or leakage occurs outside the vessel walls. This loss of blood supply results in the death of that area of tissue. Cerebral infarctions vary in their severity with one third of the cases resulting in death.

Contents

Classification

There are various classification systems for a cerebral infarction.

  • The TOAST (Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment) classification is based on clinical symptoms as well as results of further investigations; on this basis, a stroke is classified as being due to (1) thrombosis or embolism due to atherosclerosis of a large artery, (2) embolism of cardiac origin, (3) occlusion of a small blood vessel, (4) other determined cause, (5) undetermined cause (two possible causes, no cause identified, or incomplete investigation).[4]

Symptoms

Symptoms of cerebral infarction are determined by topographical localisation of cerebral lesion. If it is located in primary motor cortex- contralateral hemiparesis occurs, for brainstem localisation typical are brainstem syndromes: Wallenberg's syndrome, Weber's syndrome, Millard-Gubler syndrome, Benedikt syndrome or others. Infarctions will result in weakness and loss of sensation on the opposite side of the body. Physical examination of the head area will reveal abnormal pupil dilation, light reaction and lack of eye movement on opposite side. If the infarction occours on the left side brain, speech will be slurred. Reflexes may be aggravated as well.

Causes

In thrombotic cerebral infarction a thrombus usually forms around atherosclerotic plaques. An embolic stroke refers to the blockage of an artery by an embolus, a travelling particle or debris in the arterial bloodstream originating from elsewhere. An embolus is most frequently a thrombus, but it can also be a number of other substances including fat (e.g. from bone marrow in a broken bone), air, cancer cells or clumps of bacteria (usually from infectious endocarditis). The embolus may be of cardiac origin or from atherosclerotic plaque of another (or the same) large artery.

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Risk factors

Risk factors for cerebral infarction are generally the same as for atherosclerosis: Diabetes, Tobacco smoking, Hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia, High blood pressure, Obesity.

Diagnosis

Computed tomography (CT) and MRI scanning will show damaged area in the brain, showing that the symptoms were not caused by a tumor, subdural hematoma or other brain disorder. The blockage will also appear on the angiogram.

Treatment

In last decade, similar to myocardial infarction treatment, thrombolytic drugs were introduced in the therapy of cerebral infarction. The use of intravenous rtPA therapy can be advocated in patients who arrive to stroke unit and can be fully evaluated within 3 h of the onset.

If cerebral infarction is caused by a thrombus occluding blood flow to an artery supplying the brain, definitive therapy is aimed at removing the blockage by breaking the clot down (thrombolysis), or by removing it mechanically (thrombectomy). The more rapidly blood flow is restored to the brain, the fewer brain cells die.[5] In increasing numbers of primary stroke centers, pharmacologic thrombolysis with the drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), is used to dissolve the clot and unblock the artery. Another intervention for acute cerebral ischaemia is removal of the offending thrombus directly. This is accomplished by inserting a catheter into the femoral artery, directing it into the cerebral circulation, and deploying a corkscrew-like device to ensnare the clot, which is then withdrawn from the body. Angioplasty and stenting have begun to be looked at as possible viable options in treatment of acute cerebral ischaemia. If studies show carotid stenosis, and the patient has residual function in the affected side, carotid endarterectomy (surgical removal of the stenosis) may decrease the risk of recurrence if performed rapidly after cerebral infarction. Carotid endarterectomy is also indicated to decrease the risk of cerebral infarction for symptomatic carotid stenosis (>70 to 80 reduction in diameter). [6]

In tissue losses that are not immediately fatal, the best course of action is to make every effort to restore impairments through physical therapy, speech therapy and exercise.

References

  1. ^ Ropper, Allan H.; Adams, Raymond Delacy; Brown, Robert F.; Victor, Maurice (2005). Adams and Victor's principles of neurology. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical Pub. Division. pp. 686–704. ISBN 0-07-141620-X. 
  2. ^ Bamford J, Sandercock P, Dennis M, Burn J, Warlow C (June 1991). "Classification and natural history of clinically identifiable subtypes of cerebral infarction". Lancet 337 (8756): 1521–6. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(91)93206-O. PMID 1675378. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/0140-6736(91)93206-O.  Later publications distinguish between "syndrome" and "infarct", based on evidence from imaging. "Syndrome" may be replaced by "hemorrhage" if imaging demonstrates a bleed. See Internet Stroke Center. "Oxford Stroke Scale". http://www.strokecenter.org/trials/scales/oxford.html. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  3. ^ Bamford JM (2000). "The role of the clinical examination in the subclassification of stroke". Cerebrovasc. Dis. 10 Suppl 4: 2–4. doi:10.1159/000047582. PMID 11070389. 
  4. ^ Adams HP, Bendixen BH, Kappelle LJ, et al. (January 1993). "Classification of subtype of acute ischemic stroke. Definitions for use in a multicenter clinical trial. TOAST. Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment" (PDF). Stroke 24 (1): 35–41. PMID 7678184. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/24/1/35. 
  5. ^ Saver JL (2006). "Time is brain - quantified". Stroke 37 (37): 263–6. doi:10.1161/01.STR.0000196957.55928.ab. PMID 16339467. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/01.STR.0000196957.55928.abv1. 
  6. ^ Ropper, A.H.; Brown, R.H. (2005), Adams and Victor's Principles of Neurology, pp. 698, ISBN 0-07-141620-X 

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