Purpose: There are a few reports on leptomeningeal high signal intensity (LMHI: ivy sign) on fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) images in moyamoya disease, but the feature of this finding has not been completely understood. The purpose of this study was to characterize LMHI on FLAIR images in moyamoya disease and to assess usefulness of this finding in the diagnosis of moyamoya disease in conventional MR imaging.
Material and methods: MR imaging of 28 patients with moyamoya disease was retrospectively reviewed. The grade of LMHI on FLAIR images was classified as "absent," "minimal," "moderate" and "marked." Fifty-four hemispheres of 28 patients (2 patients had unilateral disease) were assessed for the frequency of visualization and distribution of LMHI. The correlations between LMHI on FLAIR images, moyamoya vessels on T1- and T2-weighted images and MR angiography findings were also analyzed.
Results: Moderate and marked LMHI was seen in 31 out of 54 hemispheres (57%). LMHI was seen more prominently in the frontal and parietal lobes than in the temporal and occipital lobes. Although there was a tendency for LMHI on FLAIR images to be prominent in groups with moderate and marked moyamoya vessels on T1- and T2-weighted images, there was no significant correlation. More prominent LMHI was observed in the hemispheres in which cortical branches of the middle cerebral arteries were poorly visualized on MR angiography.
Conclusion: Leptomeningeal high signal intensity (ivy sign) on FLAIR images is predominantly seen in the frontal and parietal lobes. Because this sign can be seen in patients with unremarkable moyamoya vessels, LMHI is a useful sign in conventional MR imaging for the diagnosis of moyamoya disease.