Purpose: To analyze the magnetic resonance (MR) imaging features of familial cerebral cavernous angioma in non-Hispanic families.
Materials and methods: Between November 1996 and June 1997, 51 non-Hispanic families with familial cavernous angioma were identified. Cerebral MR images in 83 symptomatic subjects and 73 asymptomatic subjects were reviewed. Spin-echo (SE) and gradient-echo (GRE) MR imaging features of cavernous angioma were recorded and, in 91 subjects with both SE and GRE images, lesions were graded as type 1, 2, 3, or 4, according to a published classification scheme. MR imaging features were compared between symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects, and sensitivities of SE and GRE images were determined.
Results: Multiple lesions were more common than single lesions in both symptomatic and asymptomatic subjects, with no difference in mean number of lesions between groups. More lesions were detected on GRE images than on SE images. Type 1 and type 2 lesions were more numerous in symptomatic than in asymptomatic subjects. The numbers of types 2, 3, and 4 lesions increased with age in both groups.
Conclusion: The familial form of cavernous angioma is characterized by multiple lesions and by a correlation between lesion number and subject age. The clinical manifestation may be more closely related to the type of lesion than to the number of lesions. GRE MR images are more sensitive than SE images for demonstration of cavernous angioma.