Background and purpose: The most frequent and serious complications of endovascular treatment of intracranial aneurysms with Guglielmi detachable coils (GDCs) are ischemic lesions caused by thromboembolic events. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging appears to be the most sensitive technique for detecting early ischemic phenomena. We evaluated this technique for the detection of brain changes in patients who underwent GDC treatment of aneurysms.
Methods: Twenty patients with a cerebral aneurysm were studied with diffusion-weighted imaging before and after endovascular treatment with GDCs. Aneurysms were located in the anterior (n = 16) or posterior (n = 4) circulation. Bleeding had occurred in 11 patients. MR studies, including fast fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) and diffusion-weighted sequences, were scheduled before, 2 to 4 hours after, and 48 hours after treatment. MR images, including apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps, were assessed for the presence of acute ischemic stroke lesions.
Results: In all patients, the aneurysm was excluded without neurologic worsening. In 18 patients, diffusion-weighted and FLAIR images showed no evidence of recent ischemic lesions after treatment. In one patient, an asymptomatic frontobasal hyperintense signal on diffusion-weighted images with a drop of ADC values corresponding to an acute ischemic lesion was observed. In another patient, multiple silent lesions were seen on diffusion-weighted images after embolization. These silent lesions were not all located in the vascular territory of the aneurysm's parent artery.
Conclusion: This preliminary study suggests that diffusion-weighted MR imaging is a potentially useful tool for monitoring patients after endovascular treatment of a cerebral aneurysm. While small asymptomatic lesions can be observed on these images after embolization, their exact prevalence should be evaluated in a larger series.