Deep learning-based white matter lesion volume on CT is associated with outcome after acute ischemic stroke

Henk van Voorst, Johanna Pitkänen, Laura van Poppel, Lucas de Vries, Mahsa Mojtahedi, Laura Martou, Bart J. Emmer, Yvo B. W. E. M. Roos, Robert van Oostenbrugge, Alida A. Postma, Henk A. Marquering, Charles B. L. M. Majoie, Sami Curtze, Susanna Melkas, Paul Bentley, Matthan W. A. Caan

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Background: Intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) before endovascular treatment (EVT) for acute ischemic stroke might induce intracerebral hemorrhages which could negatively affect patient outcomes. Measuring white matter lesions size using deep learning (DL-WML) might help safely guide IVT administration. We aimed to develop, validate, and evaluate a DL-WML volume on CT compared to the Fazekas scale (WML-Faz) as a risk factor and IVT effect modifier in patients receiving EVT directly after IVT. Methods: We developed a deep-learning model for WML segmentation on CT and validated with internal and external test sets. In a post hoc analysis of the MR CLEAN No-IV trial, we associated DL-WML volume and WML-Faz with symptomatic-intracerebral hemorrhage (sICH) and 90-day functional outcome according to the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). We used multiplicative interaction terms between WML measures and IVT administration to evaluate IVT treatment effect modification. Regression models were used to report unadjusted and adjusted common odds ratios (cOR/acOR). Results: In total, 516 patients from the MR CLEAN No-IV trial (male/female, 291/225; age median, 71 [IQR, 62–79]) were analyzed. Both DL-WML volume and WML-Faz are associated with sICH (DL-WML volume acOR, 1.78 [95%CI, 1.17; 2.70]; WML-Faz acOR, 1.53 95%CI [1.02; 2.31]) and mRS (DL-WML volume acOR, 0.70 [95%CI, 0.55; 0.87], WML-Faz acOR, 0.73 [95%CI 0.60; 0.88]). Only in the unadjusted IVT effect modification analysis WML-Faz was associated with more sICH if IVT was given (p = 0.046). Neither WML measure was associated with worse mRS if IVT was given. Conclusion: DL-WML volume and WML-Faz had a similar relationship with functional outcome and sICH. Although more sICH might occur in patients with more severe WML-Faz receiving IVT, no worse functional outcome was observed. Clinical relevance statement: White matter lesion severity on baseline CT in acute ischemic stroke patients has a similar predictive value if measured with deep learning or the Fazekas scale. Safe administration of intravenous thrombolysis using white matter lesion severity should be further studied. Key Points: White matter damage is a predisposing risk factor for intracranial hemorrhage in patients with acute ischemic stroke but remains difficult to measure on CT. White matter lesion volume on CT measured with deep learning had a similar association with symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhages and worse functional outcome as the Fazekas scale. A patient-level meta-analysis is required to study the benefit of white matter lesion severity-based selection for intravenous thrombolysis before endovascular treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Radiology
Early online date2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • Deep learning
  • Leukoaraiosis
  • Thrombectomy
  • Thrombolytic therapy
  • Tomography (X-ray computed)

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