Health and Stroke

What is Stroke Volume?

What is stroke volume?

December 7, 2021

Zeit Medical

What is Stroke Volume?

Following an ischemic stroke, the most common concern is the extent of neurological damage. This can be difficult to determine  since many factors affect the potential for brain damage and how it relates to healing and recovery (both acute and chronic). Thankfully, the medical research community strives to determine the best way to assess post-stroke brain health. One promising assessment tool is measuring stroke volume, also known as infarct volume or lesion volume.

What is Stroke Volume?

Not to be confused with stroke volume of the heart (the amount of blood pumped with each beat of the heart), stroke volume is estimated by looking at the properties of a brain lesion via brain imaging, usually using a CT scan or MRI. This is done by measuring the extent of damage in 3 planes of the brain and using certain formulas to determine how much brain damage has occurred. Often these steps are being done by software programs that can calculate the affected area with much greater precision. Knowing a patient's stroke volume can be beneficial for determining the next steps.

Why Does Stroke Volume Matter?

Stroke volume measurement is an important prognostic indicator following a stroke. The stroke volume measurements not only determine the volume of brain without adequate oxygen supply, but it also identifies the extent of that region that is unlikely to recover, the “core”, and the part that might regain functionality once blood flow is restored, the “penumbra”. Knowing these crucial pieces of information is essential for doctors to make an informed decision on how to best treat the patient.

Determining Appropriate  Stroke Treatment Options

Once stroke volume has been measured, a doctor can make a better-informed decision on what to do next to minimize stroke induced disability. For example, endovascular treatment (use of a catheter to remove the clot), IV treatment (use of tPA, tissue plasminogen activator, to break up a clot), and extended hospital monitoring are all possible treatment options once the extent of damage is better understood.

Additionally, once the onset of an acute stroke has been effectively managed, stroke volume measurements can help give stroke victims and their families realistic expectations as they move forward. They can then make a better-informed decision with their doctor on what to do next, whether they go home or to a rehab facility.

Moving Forward with Better Clarity

Stroke volume is an important measurement following a stroke. Using a CT scan or MRI to determine the size of a stroke lesion can help estimate a more accurate 90-day prognosis. In fact, this has been more accurate in determining long-term outcomes when compared to other factors like age, Barthel score (a test that looks at the ability to complete activities of daily living- ADLs), and overall health (including pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease).

Having some form of clarity following a stroke can be immensely helpful during a high-risk, high-stress time in a patient's life. Routine measurement of stroke volume can reduce ambiguity with acute stroke treatment. This helps direct both treatment and expectations moving forward. With approximately 25% of Americans experiencing a stroke at some point in their lifetime, a standardized measurement like stroke volume is an essential tool for doctors and patients to ensure the best possible recovery and outcomes.

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