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Cerebral Infarction: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Cerebral infarction is known to account for 90% of the strokes in the US. As per the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention, strokes kill around 130, 000 Americans each year. It is important to know more about cerebral infarction, the types, causes, and the treatments, read the following array of the article.

What Is Cerebral Infarction?

What Is Cerebral Infarction?

Infarction refers to the tissue death. A cerebral infarction, or a stroke, is actually a brain lesion where a cluster of brain cells die, when they fail to get enough of blood.

Cerebral infarction generally occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel and when it leaks outside the walls of the vessel. Such occurrences vary in their severity; and about 1/3rd of this result in death.

High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, tobacco smoking, hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipoproteinemia, and obesity are some conditions that might lead to cerebral infarction.

What Are The Types and Causes Of Cerebral Infarction?

There are primarily three types of cerebral infarction. So, let us take a look on the types and also know the causes of cerebral infarction.

Arteriosclerotic Cerebral Infarction – Arteriosclerotic cerebral infarction is a cerebral infarction that is caused by the blockage or narrowing of the cerebrovascular cavity. This being the commonest type, it is also one of the commonest causes of cerebral infarction. This occurs because of ischemic necrosis due to a lack or an insufficient supply of blood to the brain. The affected persons might suffer from hemiplegia, aphasia, or other cerebral damages. Usually arteriosclerotic cerebral infarction is commonly seen in the elderly people, and the death rate due to this is higher for those patients who smoke, suffer from diabetes, or have a high-fat diet.

Most often the cerebrovascular occlusion is due to the cerebral thrombosis or due to cerebral embolism. There occurs cerebral thrombosis, when the inner membrane of the canal cavity and the canal cavity by itself becomes narrow. The cerebral blood vessels contain blood platelet factors that are condensed in blocks and that cause a stickiness of the blood, reduced flow of blood and a drop in the blood pressure. In case of cerebral thrombosis, thrombi from other body parts flow to the brain and result in a blockage, like the tumor cells. It may generally take many days for symptoms to peak; however, it can also occur within few minutes or even seconds.

Hemorrhagic Cerebral Infarction – Hemorrhagic cerebral infarction too is one of the common types of cerebral infarction, which occurs when thrombosis or embolism occurs to a major cerebral artery or a major branch. Here, blood leaks out of the cerebral artery and enters the cerebral tissues. Cerebral tissues suffer diffuse ischemia, anoxia, and weakened vessel as well as walls of the blood capillary. Blood tends to enter the paralyzed or the damaged blood vessels via the anastomosis branch and it is then when the bleeding gets intensified. There is a greater chance of the arterial vessels reopening after this cerebral infarction.

As the medical scholars report, up to 75% of patients with hemorrhagic cerebral infarction incur one more incident within 7 days of its initial occurrence. The sooner the occurrence of the opening, the quicker would be another hemorrhage that occurs. Usually patients with hemorrhagic cerebral infarction are treated with medications for dissolution and anti-coagulation or might also require surgery.

Lacunar Cerebral Infarction – This type of cerebral infarction refers to old or the new infarctions present deep within the brain. When lacunar cerebral infarction occurs, there is the formation of lacunas or the holes. Depending on the blood vessels which are infracted, there may be symptoms like dizziness, numbness, headache, clumsiness, and aphasia. This is because the small arteries are being blocked. This type of cerebral infarction may be caused because of the cerebral arteriosclerosis and hypertension.

People who are at a greater risk of getting lacunar cerebral infarction are the middle-aged and the old people; Some of the causes of this type of cerebral infarction include reduced flow of blood, as a result to the body changes, which includes enhanced platelet aggregation, increased blood lipids, and increased viscosity of blood.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cerebral Infarction?

Symptoms of the cerebral infarction are generally determined by the affected parts of the brain. There occurs contralateral hemiparesis, in case the cerebral infarct is situated in the primary motor cortex. Cerebral infarction will cause weakness and a loss or a reduced level of sensation on the body’s opposite side.

A physical examination of the patient’s head area would reveal any kind of abnormal pupil dilation, lack of the movements in eye and light reaction on the opposite side. In case the cerebral infarction occurs on the brain’s left side then the speech will be slurred, and also the reflexes would be aggravated.

What Are The Treatments for Cerebral Infarction?

The treatment of cerebral infarction depends on the underlying cause, which is detected with appropriate investigations. CT or Computed tomography and MRI scanning will generally show the damaged area in your brain, showing that the symptoms were not because of a tumor, or any brain disorder. On the angiogram, the blockage will also appear. After the diagnosis of the cerebral infarction, you will have to undergo with the treatments for the same. Below are some of the options for treatment of cerebral infarction.

Thrombolytic Drugs – Depending on the severity and the type of cerebral infarction, the treatment typically varies. Thrombolytic drugs are the commonest popularly used treatment of cerebral infarction. As per the American Heart Association, it is explained that the affected people have a better chance of survival as well as recovery from the infarction if thrombolytic drugs are taken within about 12 hours of the incident. Most of the affected people are administered with these thrombolytic drugs within 90 minutes of their arrival to the hospital. For patients who are not able to tolerate the thrombolytic drugs, there may be the use of mechanical embolectomy devices so as to restore the flow of blood.

Thrombectomy Or Thrombolysis – Thrombectomy or thrombolysis is one of the treatment of cerebral infarction that may be used to remove the blockage, if the cerebral infarction is due to thrombus blocking the flow of blood to the brain. Many stroke centers generally implement thrombolysis with the tPA or the tissue plasminogen activator drug. This tPA is a protein that helps in the breakdown of the blood clots and unblock the artery.

Mechanical Embolectomy Devices – Mechanical embolectomy devices are the devices that are found to be effective in restoring the flow of blood in the affected persons who were not able to receive the thrombolytic drugs or for the patients in whom the thrombolytic drugs were not effective. These mechanical embolectomy devices have been tested only on patients who were treated with the mechanical clot embolectomy within about 8 hours of the onset of their symptoms.

Stenting And Angioplasty – Stenting as well as angioplasty are at present considered to be the best possible treatments for cerebral infarction. There are reviews of center trails from 300 patients using angioplasty or stenting that are favorable. Clinical trials of intra-cranial stenting were found to be 90-98% successful. However, for complete evaluation of the advantages of stenting and angioplasty, larger and controlled trials are required.


So, now you are aware of cerebral infarction, its types, causes, symptoms and treatment of cerebral infarction. If you or any of your known ones is suffering from the symptoms of cerebral infarction then do consult with your doctor and go for the accurate diagnosis and treatment.


  1. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases: Article: “Cerebral Infarction: An Overview” DOI: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2017.03.034
  2. European Stroke Journal: Article: “Current Concepts of Cerebral Infarction and Stroke Rehabilitation” DOI: 10.1177/2396987320920647
  3. World Neurosurgery: Article: “Treatment of Cerebral Infarction: A Comprehensive Review” DOI: 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.09.180
  4. Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20350113
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2023

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