Background Pretreatment Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Scores (ASPECTS) is associated with clinical outcomes. The rate of decline between subsequent images, however, may be more predictive of outcomes as it integrates time and physiology.
Methods A cohort of patients transferred from six primary stroke centers and treated with intra-arterial therapy (IAT) was retrospectively studied. Absolute ASPECTS decay was defined as ((ASPECTS First CT—ASPECTS Second CT)/hours elapsed between images). A logistic regression model was performed to determine if the rate of ASPECTS decay predicted good outcomes at 90 days (modified Rankin Scale score of 0–2).
Results 106 patients with a mean age of 66±14 years and a median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score of 19 (IQR 15–23) were analyzed. Median time between initial CT at the outside hospital to repeat CT at our facility was 2.7 h (IQR 2.0–3.6). Patients with good outcomes had lower rates of absolute ASPECTS decay compared with those who did not (0.14±0.23 score/h vs 0.49±0.39 score/h; p<0.001). In multivariable modeling, the absolute rate of ASPECTS decay (OR 0.043; 95% CI 0.004 to 0.471; p=0.01) was a stronger predictor of good patient outcome than static pretreatment ASPECTS obtained before IAT (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.38 to 1.04; p=0.075). In practical terms, every 1 unit increase in ASPECTS decline per hour correlates with a 23-fold lower probability of a good outcome.
Conclusions Patients with faster rates of ASPECTS decay during inter-facility transfers are associated with worse clinical outcomes. This value may reflect the rate of physiological infarct expansion and thus serve as a tool in patient selection for IAT.