Damage to the Corona Radiata After Stroke

What it means when this bundle of nerve fibers in the brain is affected

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Certain types of strokes can damage the corona radiata. This bundle of nerve fibers in the brain carries information between cells in the outermost layer of the brain (cerebral cortex) and those in the brain stem (the lower part of the brain connected to the spinal cord).

If the corona radiata is damaged by a stroke, you can experience a change in the way you express emotions. Some people also experience psychological and psychiatric changes, as well as visual impairment.

In this article, you'll learn what the corona radiata does and where it is located. You'll also learn about corona radiata stroke symptoms, prognosis, treatment, recovery, and prevention.

Neurology diagnosis
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Function of the Corona Radiata

The corona radiata is an important group of nerves. It plays a role in sending and receiving messages between regions in the brain.

The nerve cells of the corona radiata are afferent and efferent, meaning they carry messages to and from the body.

  • Afferent refers to sensory input and other input sent from the body to the brain.
  • Efferent refers to messages sent from the brain to the body to control motor function.

The corona radiata consists of afferent and efferent fibers that connect the cerebral cortex and the brain stem. The cerebral cortex processes conscious information, while the brain stem is the connection between the spinal cord and the brain.

Both are involved in sensation and motor function, and the corona radiata connects motor and sensory nerve pathways between these structures.

Corona Radiata Strokes

The corona radiata may be injured by a stroke involving small branches of blood vessels. Strokes that can affect the corona radiata are called lacunar strokes or "small vessel strokes" because the corona radiata receives blood supply from small branches of the arteries in the brain.​

A stroke in the corona radiata may also be called a "white matter stroke" because the corona radiata is heavily myelinated. This means it's protected by a special kind of fatty tissue that insulates and protects nerve cells. Finally, a corona radiata stroke may also be referred to as "subcortical" because the corona radiata is located in the deep subcortical region of the brain.

Types of strokes that may affect the corona radiata include:

  • Pure sensory strokes: This type of stroke can cause numbness or the absence of sensation on one side of the face and/or one arm or leg.
  • Ataxic strokes: This type of stroke can involve the corona radiata, but can also affect other parts of the brain such as the pons. Ataxic strokes can cause problems with coordination and muscle control.
  • Pure motor strokes: A pure motor stroke causes paralysis on one side of the face, arm, and leg. It's the most common type of lacunar stroke.

Strokes can be ischemic or hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke happens when an artery is blocked by a blood clot or other substances such as fatty deposits. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds.

What else can damage the corona radiata?

Besides a stroke, there are other causes of damage to the corona radiata. These include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Metastasis (spread of cancer from the body)
  • Head trauma
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain infections

Any of these conditions can impact the function of the corona radiata.

Symptoms of Corona Radiata Stroke

Strokes involving the corona radiata might be relatively small and may not cause symptoms. These strokes are called silent strokes.

On the other hand, a stroke involving the corona radiata can produce nonspecific symptoms, like the inability to care for yourself. This is a stroke predictor, even without major signs of a stroke on a brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a brain computerized tomography (CT) scan.

When lacunar strokes do produce symptoms, they may include:

  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Drooping of one side of the face
  • Difficulty walking 
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Headache
  • Memory problems
  • Loss of consciousness

A lacunar stroke can cause permanent brain damage. This is why it is important to seek emergency care if you or someone else experiences any of the above symptoms. Getting treatment right away can prevent serious brain damage and improve your chances of survival.

After a lacunar stroke, you may experience difficulty with day-to-day tasks including the basic tasks necessary to care for yourself. You may require long-term rehabilitation. Many people have to relearn basic skills like walking and speaking. 

Diagnosis

Strokes are usually diagnosed by emergency healthcare providers. If you have stroke symptoms, you will receive diagnostic tests immediately upon admission to the emergency room.

Before diagnosing a stroke, your healthcare provider may order a CT scan to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. 

An MRI is considered the most accurate way to identify a lacunar stroke. Your healthcare provider may also order a CT angiogram. This test involves injecting dye into your blood vessels. The dye helps your healthcare provider identify a blockage on the CT scan.

Treatment

Treatment for a stroke that affects the corona radiata is similar to treatment for other kinds of strokes and typically includes the following steps:

Emergency Treatment

Shortly after you arrive at the hospital, you may be given aspirin to prevent further blood clots. If it has been 4 1/2 hours or less since your symptoms began and you've been diagnosed with ischemic stroke, you may also receive a medication called tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) to help break down existing blood clots.

If it has been more than 4 1/2 hours since the onset of your symptoms, you may receive mechanical thrombectomy. During this procedure, a surgeon threads a thin tube through your blood vessels to help break apart the blood clot.

If you've been diagnosed with hemorrhagic stroke, you may be given medication to control blood pressure and proteins called blood clotting factors to stop the bleeding.

Rehabilitation

Most people who have had a stroke will need rehabilitation in the weeks and months afterward. This may include:

  • Physical therapy: You may need help regaining your ability to walk, sit up, stand, and lie down. Most people begin this type of rehabilitation right away, before they've been released from the hospital.
  • Occupational therapy: This type of therapy helps you improve motor control, especially in your hands. Occupational therapists help you regain your ability to complete simple day-to-day tasks. They also help you learn to cope with the cognitive changes that you may experience after your stroke.
  • Speech therapy: You may have trouble speaking or understanding written words after you've had a stroke. The goal of speech therapy is to help you relearn spoken and written language skills or learn other ways to communicate.

Preventing Future Strokes

Up to 23% of stroke victims will have a second stroke. This means one of the most important elements of your recovery is to take steps to lower your risk.

If you are a smoker, your healthcare provider will advise you to quit. This will not only reduce your risk of having a second stroke, it will also reduce your risk of other health problems.

If you've been prescribed medication to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, it is important to keep taking it as prescribed. If you have diabetes, keep taking your medication and make sure your blood sugar is well controlled.

Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can help reduce your risk of having another stroke.

Prognosis and Recovery

The good news is that lacunar strokes typically have a better prognosis and faster recovery times than strokes that happen in large blood vessels. Survival rates for lacunar strokes are between 90% and 100%. In addition, between 70% and 80% of those who have had a lacunar stroke can function independently one year later.

One study looked at 200 people who had a corona radiata stroke. Researchers found that six months after their stroke, 45.7% had favorable ambulatory outcomes, meaning they could walk without someone else's assistance.

A Word From Verywell

Preventing a corona radiata stroke lies in stroke prevention. Stroke prevention has two major key components: long-term lifestyle habits and regular medical care.

Smoking is a major stroke risk factor, so an important part of stroke prevention is to quit smoking if you currently smoke. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are also components of stroke prevention.

Stress is another lifestyle issue that can contribute to stroke risk. Make efforts towards relaxation and stress reduction to help prevent stroke.

In addition, addressing medical issues such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure can help reduce your risk of stroke. It's important to maintain regular check-ups with your healthcare provider because several aspects of your routine medical check-up can identify stroke risk

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Jose Vega MD, PhD
Jose Vega MD, PhD, is a board-certified neurologist and published researcher specializing in stroke.