Multiple acute stroke syndrome: Marker of embolic disease?

Alison E. Baird, K. O. Lövblad, G. Schlaug, R. R. Edelman, S. Warach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the frequency and etiologic significance of multiple acute ischemic lesions in stroke. Background: Although patients may have more than one stroke during the course of their lives, acute ischemic stroke is usually thought of as a single event. Using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), an MRI technique that detects ischemic injury within minutes after onset, we have often observed multiple acute ischemic lesions. Methods: The MRI scans of 59 consecutively studied patients were reviewed to determine the frequency and etiologic significance of multiple acute ischemic lesions on DWI. Results: Multiple acute ischemic lesions were present in 10 (17%) of 59 patients. The lesions usually occurred within one major circulation (anterior or posterior), but in two patients (3%), lesions occurred in both cerebral hemispheres or in the anterior and the posterior circulations. The lesions often were small and resulted from presumed multiple emboli or the break-up of an embolus. Two patients had internal carotid artery occlusive disease ant four had a cardiac or aortic source. In the other four patients the source was not determined. Lesions larger than 1 cm in diameter progressed to infarction, but some smaller lesions were not seen on follow-up T2-weighted imaging. Conclusions Multiple acute stroke lesions on DWI are common and could be caused by multiple emboli or the breakup of an embolus. In some cases it might become possible to make early inferences concerning the stroke mechanism that could be of use for immediately directing the clinical work-up and treatment of the patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-678
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 8 2000


  • Cerebral embolism
  • Cerebrovascular disorders
  • Ischemic stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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