Clinical MRI Interpretation for Outcome Prediction in Cardiac Arrest

Neurocritical Care , 05/14/2012

The qualitative evaluation of imaging abnormalities by stroke physicians in comatose cardiac arrest patients is a highly sensitive method of predicting poor outcome, but with limited specificity.


  • The authors analyzed 80 consecutive MRIs from patients in coma following cardiac arrest.
  • Each study was graded as “normal” or “abnormal restricted diffusion” in pre–specified brain regions by two blinded stroke neurologists.
  • Poor outcome was defined as a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score >4 at 3months.
  • Formal interpretations of neuroimaging by non–blinded neuroradiologists were compared with the blinded reviews by the stroke neurologists.


  • DWI abnormalities were highly sensitive (98.5 %) but only modestly specific (46.2 %) for predicting poor neurological outcome.
  • Inter–observer reliability was moderate (kappa=0.49±0.32), with 91 % agreement between study observers, and no significant differences in study observers’ interpretations (p=0.125).
  • There were, however, significant differences between the study observers and the clinical neuroradiologists in identifying studies showing evidence of global hypoxic–ischemic injury (p=0.001).

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