Galinovic I, Puig J, Neeb L, Guibernau J, Kemmling A, Siemonsen S, Pedraza S, Cheng B, Thomalla G, Fiehler J, Fiebach JB.BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: WAKE-UP is a randomized, placebo-controlled MRI-based trial of thrombolysis in wake-up stroke using the mismatch between a lesion’s visibility in diffusion-weighted imaging and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) sequences as its main imaging inclusion criterion. Visual judgment of lesion conspicuity on FLAIR is however methodically limited by moderate inter-rater agreement. We therefore sought to improve rating homogeneity by incorporating quantitative signal intensity measurements. METHODS: One hundred forty-three data sets of patients with acute ischemic stroke were visually rated by 8 raters with respect to WAKE-UP study inclusion and exclusion criteria, and inter-rater agreement was calculated. A subanalysis was performed on 45 cases to determine a threshold value of relative signal intensity (rSI) between the ischemic lesion and contralateral healthy tissue which best corresponded to a visually established verdict of FLAIR positivity. The usefulness of this threshold in improving inter-rater agreement was evaluated in an additional sample of 50 patients. RESULTS: Inter-rater agreement for inclusion into the WAKE-UP trial was 73% with a free-marginal κ of 0.46. A threshold of rSI which best correlated with the visual rating of lesions as FLAIR positive was 1.20. The addition of rSI measurements to visual evaluation did not change the inter-rater agreement. CONCLUSIONS: Introducing a semiquantitative measure for FLAIR rSI did not improve the agreement between individual raters. However, enhancing visual assessment with rSI measurements can provide reassurance to local investigators in cases of uncertainty.
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