Background: Delayed neurological improvement (DNI) is a phenomenon that involves patient improvement in the absence of early neurological change following treatment for acute ischemic stroke. The patient characteristics associated with this condition are largely unexplored. Methods: Following the PRISMA guidelines, a systematic review of the English language literature was conducted using PubMed, Embase, Web of science, and Scopus. We calculated pooled odds ratios (ORs), mean differences (MDs), and their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to test the association between patient characteristics and achievement of DNI. Results: Seven studies, with 3266 patients, were included in our analysis. All studies reported a different definition of DNI, with five studies focusing on rates of good functional outcome at 90 days post-treatment in the absence of early neurological improvement. Use of intravenous thrombolytics was associated with increased rates of DNI (OR 1.96, 95% CI 1.28 to 3.00; p = 0.002). Atrial fibrillation was associated with decreased rates of DNI (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.82; p < 0.001), as was hypertension (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.83, p < 0.001), and diabetes mellitus (OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.90; p = 0.005). On average, patients who achieved DNI were 6.30 years younger than their non-DNI counterparts (MD −6.30, 95% CI −9.19 to −3.41; p < 0.001). There were modest associations between male sex and DNI (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.74, p = 0.042), and smoking and DNI (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.59, p = 0.027). Conclusions: DNI is a phenomenon that is not presently well understood. Lack of uniformity among definitions of DNI hinders efforts to explore DNI and the factors associated with its occurrence. Future studies should work to establish a consensus definition of DNI to determine its causes and significance more accurately.
- delayed neurological improvement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine