Diffusion imaging of cerebral diaschisis in childhood arterial ischemic stroke

the PedNIHSS Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Diffusion-weighted imaging magnetic resonance imaging may detect changes in brain structures remote but connected to stroke consistent with neuropathological descriptions of diaschisis. Early diffusion-weighted imaging demonstrates restriction in corticospinal pathways after arterial ischemic stroke of all ages that correlates with motor outcome. Aim/hypothesis: We hypothesized that cerebral diaschisis is measurable in childhood arterial ischemic stroke and explored associations with outcome. Methods: This sub-study of the validation of the Pediatric NIH Stroke Scale study prospectively enrolled children with acute arterial ischemic stroke and both acute and early follow-up (5–14 days) diffusion-weighted imaging. Inclusion criteria were (1) unilateral middle cerebral artery arterial ischemic stroke, (2) acute and subacute diffusion-weighted imaging (b = 1000), and (3) 12 month neurological follow-up (Pediatric Stroke Outcome Measure). A validated method using ImageJ software quantified diffusion-weighted imaging diaschisis in anatomically connected structures. Diaschisis measures were corrected for infarct volume, compared to age, imaging timing, and outcomes (Chi square/Fisher, Mann–Whitney test). Results: Nineteen children (53% male, median 8.1 years) had magnetic resonance imaging at medians of 21 and 168 h post-stroke onset. Diaschisis was common and evolved over time, observed in one (5%) on acute but eight (42%) by follow-up diffusion-weighted imaging. Thalamic and callosal diaschisis were most common (5, 26%). Estimates of perilesional diaschisis varied (54 ± 18% of infarct volume). Children with diaschisis tended to be younger (7.02 ± 5.4 vs. 11.82 ± 4.3 years, p = 0.08). Total diaschisis score was associated with poor cognitive outcomes (p = 0.03). Corticospinal tract diaschisis was associated with motor outcome (p = 0.004). Method reliability was excellent. Conclusions: Diffusion-weighted imaging diaschisis occurs in childhood arterial ischemic stroke. Mistaking diaschisis for new areas of infarction carries important clinical implications. Improved recognition and study are required to establish clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1028-1035
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Pediatric stroke
  • childhood stroke
  • diaschisis
  • diffusion imaging
  • diffusion-weighted imaging
  • magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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