BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Infarct volume is one of the common indexes for assessing the extent of ischemic brain injury following focal cerebral ischemia. Accuracy in the measurement of infarct volume is compounded by postischemic brain edema that may increase brain volume in the infarcted region. We evaluated the effect of brain edema on infarct volume determined by triphenyltetrazolium chloride and hematoxylin and eosin stains in a focal cerebral ischemia model in rats. METHODS: In a middle cerebral artery occlusion model in rats, infarction is confined to the cerebral cortex. The infarct was delineated by triphenyltetrazolium chloride stain and, in selected samples, by hematoxylin and eosin stain. We determined infarct size at different times after the ischemic insult (6 hours to 7 days) in relation to the evolution of brain edema by the direct measurement of infarct volume. Indirect measurement to reduce the effect of edema on infarct volume was also conducted in the same brain samples. RESULTS: Direct measurement showed that infarct volume fluctuated with the evolution of brain edema (one-way analysis of variance, p < 0.0001). Infarct volume determined by indirect measurement was independent of the extent of brain edema and remained stable from 6 hours to 3 days after ischemia. There was a good correlation between triphenyltetrazolium chloride and hematoxylin and eosin stains in delineating infarct volume with both direct and indirect measurement. CONCLUSION: Traditional direct measurement of infarct volume is associated with an overestimation of infarct volume during the development of brain edema in the first 3 days after ischemia. This artifact can be reduced with indirect measurement, which is based on noninfarcted cortex volume.
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