Objective: Magnetic resonance (MR) diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) is sensitive to small acute ischemic lesions and might help diagnose transient ischemic attack (TIA). Reclassification of patients with TIA and a DWI lesion as "stroke" is under consideration. We assessed DWI positivity in TIA and implications for reclassification as stroke.
Methods: We searched multiple sources, without language restriction, from January 1995 to July 2012. We used PRISMA guidelines, and included studies that provided data on patients presenting with suspected TIA who under-went MR DWI and reported the proportion with an acute DWI lesion. We performed univariate random effects meta-analysis to determine DWI positive rates and influencing factors.
Results: We included 47 papers and 9,078 patients (range = 18-1,693). Diagnosis was by a stroke specialist in 26 of 47 studies (55%); all studies excluded TIA mimics. The pooled proportion of TIA patients with an acute DWI lesion was 34.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 30.5-38.4, range = 9-67%; I-2 = 89.3%). Larger studies (n > 200) had lower DWI-positive rates (29%; 95% CI = 23.2-34.6) than smaller (n <50) studies (40.1%; 95% CI = 33.5-46.6%; p = 0.035), but no other testable factors, including clinician speciality and time to scanning, reduced or explained the 7-fold DWI-positive variation.
Interpretation: The commonest DWI finding in patients with definite TIA is a negative scan. Available data do not explain why 2/3 of patients with definite specialist-confirmed TIA have negative DWI findings. Until these factors are better understood, reclassifying DWI-positive TIAs as strokes is likely to increase variance in estimates of global stroke and TIA burden of disease.
- ASSOCIATION/AMERICAN STROKE ASSOCIATION
- HEALTH-CARE PROFESSIONALS
- MINOR STROKE
- CLINICAL PREDICTORS
- MRI FINDINGS
- TIA PATIENTS
- EARLY RISK