Cerebral Infarction / Effects of Edema

Shown is a brain slice viewed from the back following a stroke. Blood flow to the region on the left was interrupted due to a thrombus or embolus. The lack of blood flow resulted in severe damage (infarct) to some of the brain tissue. The infarcted tissue caused fluids to accumulate (edema) and result in swelling. The center of the brain is shifted to the right due to swelling from the left.

The rigid container of the cranium allows limited room for expansion, and any condition that causes an increase in volume of one or more structures within this vault will cause an increase in intracranial pressure (ICP) or will shift one compartment of the brain, thereby compressing others. As the pressure increases, the brain shifts or is distorted, compressing neurons, nerve tracts, and cerebral arteries. A sustained increase in pressure causes persistent ischemia, irreversible damage to brain cells, and potentially death.

Acute Ischemic Stroke: New Concepts of Care
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