Cerebral Infarction Causes and Types
Cerebral Infarction is a type of ischemic stroke that affects the brain’s ability to function properly. It is a result of a blockade formed in the arteries that supply blood to the delicate tissues of the brain. This blockade prevents fresh, oxygenated blood from reaching these tissues, damaging them within seconds.
Cerebral Infarction is a serious condition that causes a stroke. The blockade found in the small arteries of the head usually travels from another location in the body where it originates. It reaches a considerable size over the years; after sufficient fat, cholesterol, debris and calcium have accumulated to form a plaque.
The Different Types of Cerebral Infarction Causes
All Cerebral infarction causes are associated with the formation of plaque, which eventually either leads to a blood clot or a rupture. In the latter, blood can leak from the inner lining of the arteries and enter the cerebral space, mixing with the fluid present there. If the leakage is severe, the pressure in the cerebral space can build up to an alarming extent. Hence, Cerebral Infarction causes can be divided into the following:
Arterial Spasm: An arterial spasm is the sudden narrowing of the muscles of the walls of the artery. The narrowing may decrease, or in critical cases, completely stop the flow of blood to the brain. This cerebral infarction cause can lead to either reversible or irreversible damage.
Atherosclerotic Occlusion in Large Vessels: This cerebral infarction cause has been highlighted above. Atherosclerotic Occlusion is the blocking of a blood vessel because of plaque collection. It helps to understand that while a blockade may not completely hinder blood flow, it brings changes to the speed and flow of blood, both of which are signals that arterial blood supply is suffering adversely. AO is the most common cerebral infarction cause in larger blood vessels like the carotid arteries.
Embolic Occlusion of Small Vessels: while large vessels are big enough to collect plaque, traveling ‘emboli’ often blocks the smaller ones. Emboli are foreign bodies that are passed along in the blood stream. When they reach small blood vessels like those in the brain, they are unable to pass because of their size. As a result, the emboli get stuck in these arteries, causing an obstruction to blood flow. This cerebral infarction cause is the most common in the small, delicate vessels of the brain.
Vasculitis: Vasculitis refers to a disease in which the condition of the artery walls changes. In each artery, the inner wall is coated with a layer of endothelium. This endothelium ensures that the walls are smooth to facilitate the easy flow of blood. In Vasculitis, the endothelium is destroyed, making the artery walls rough and scarred. If Vasculitis is the cerebral infarction cause under question, the resulting stroke is usually a result of artery wall inflammation and weakening that hinders the flow of blood to the brain.
Since all these causes are linked, cerebral infarction pathophysiology of each is similar. Keeping these causes in mind, understanding the different types of cerebral infarctions becomes easy. Each of the causes mentioned above is linked to a type of this stroke that a patient can suffer from. Depending on the type of cerebral infarction in question, doctors and surgeons are able to prescribe medication and conduct tests to prevent the onset of irreversible side effects.
The two types of cerebral infarctions are:
1. Embolic Cerebral Infarction- the blockade caused by an embolus that travels to the brain.
2. Thrombus Cerebral Infarction- the blockade caused by the formation of a blood clot because of a rupture in the endothelium.
Symptoms of Cerebral Infarction
The symptoms of cerebral infarction depend on the type of cerebral infarction under question. Hence, the extent of damage caused to the tissues and the side of the brain that suffers the trauma are two regulating factors that determine the symptoms that will surface. If the stroke affects a large part of the brain, the side effects and symptoms will be more compared to only a small part being affected.
Since brain cells control all sensory and motor functions in the body, cerebral infarction prognosis can reveal symptoms like:
• Numbness and loss of sensation in different parts of the body.
• Sudden and severe headaches.
• Difficulty with vision
• Problems with understanding speech and words. This can translate into difficulty in speaking as well.
• Pain in one side of the body.
• Slow and laid back reflexes
• Slurred speech, if the left side is affected.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Cerebral Infarction Causes
The first step in achieving a diagnosis is through an evaluation of the symptoms. At some point in this process there will be enough evidence to support a diagnosis of unspecified cerebral artery occlusion with cerebral infarction. That is to say that all of the evidence and evaluation points to cerebral infarction with a blockage of the cerebral artery as a likely cause. The specific cerebral infarction causes are diagnosed using CT Scans and MRI technology. Both of these imaging procedures give a pictorial view of the arteries and brain tissues so that the affects of a blockade can be studied.
Since Cerebral Infarction is a type of ischemic stroke, it may be of a mild nature, which is why diagnosis and treatment are so important. If pre-emptive measures and steps are taken at this stage, cerebral infarction pathophysiology can be controlled. Consequently, a patient can be saved from advanced stroke reactions that are fatal.
Before any treatment is implemented, cerebral infarction prognosis should be made. If the cerebral infarction cause is a thrombosis, thrombectomy can be performed to extract the blockade material. On the other hand, if the scans reveal a carotid blockade, carotid endarterectomy can be used for the removal of stenosis. Angioplasty and stenting are also possible surgical procedures.
Regardless of which surgical procedure needs to be used, in the aftermath of a cerebral infarction, rehabilitation is a must. Patients are advised to go through therapies like:
Speech therapy: To improve on the patient’s ability to speak and understand conversation, speech therapy is advised. Therapists guide patients on how to make their words clearer by focusing on breathing and talking slowly.
Physiotherapy: If the limbs have been affected by cerebral infarction, physiotherapy helps improve posture and induces life back into the limbs using proven exercise regimes. These have to be continued on a daily basis to make sure the limbs do not lose activity.