The purpose of this study was to determine whether the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was associated with inhospital neurological and medical complications (NMC) in patients with posterior circulation infarction.
This retrospective study included all patients admitted to our stroke unit during a one-year period (n = 289). NMC included neurological deterioration (ie, worsening by 4 points or more of the NIHSS score during the hospital stay) and all other medical complications based on what was recorded in the patients’ charts.
Seventy-nine patients (27%) experienced NMC. In posterior circulation infarction patients (n = 90), patients with NMC had a higher baseline NIHSS score (10.9 versus 2.2, P = 0.004) and a baseline NIHSS score >2 (78% versus 36%, P = 0.003). In stepwise logistic regression, an NIHSS score >2 (odds ratio: 8.2; 95% confidence interval: 1.64–41.0; P = 0.01) was associated with NMC. Similar results were observed for anterior circulation infarction patients but with a higher cutoff value for NIHSS score.
In ischemic stroke patients, an increased baseline NIHSS score was associated with an increased risk of NMC. This association applied to anterior-circulation as well as posterior circulation stroke, although zero on the NIHSS for posterior circulation stroke does not mean the absence of NMC during hospitalization. The clinical significance of these findings requires further evaluation in larger prospective studies.