Background and purpose: Contrast angiography (CA) is the reference examination for the diagnosis of cerebral arterial abnormality, but this procedure is invasive. In childhood, ischemic strokes are being increasingly investigated by means of MRI, including MR angiography (MRA). Very few data are available about the accuracy of MRA compared with CA in the specific context of acute pediatric stroke. We sought to compare the results of MRA with those of CA for the study of cerebral arteries in children with arterial infarction in an arterial distribution.
Methods: Twenty-four children presenting with 26 infarcts were studied. All were examined with cerebral MRI and MRA and with CA. The interval between CA and MRA was <3 days for most of the patients.
Results: Arterial lesions were detected in all but 2 children. They were located in the major cerebral arteries, predominantly in the anterior circulation (85% of cases). All lesions shown by CA were present on MRA (19 cases). Patients with no lesion on MRA had normal CA (2 cases). Associated distal vascular lesions and degree of arterial stenosis were more accurately detected with CA.
Conclusions: MRA is sensitive enough to provide an adequate initial evaluation of arterial brain disease in childhood.