Purpose: To study the time course of diffusion imaging at the lesion site in brainstem infarcts.
Materials and methods: Sequential MR scans were acquired from 24 patients with brainstem infarcts. Diffusion-weighted images (DWI), T(2)-weighted images (T(2)w), maps of apparent diffusion coefficient, and maps of fractional anisotropy were generated from each MR scan. A trend function was fitted to these measurements to model an objective, general time course of the studied parameters.
Results: Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) continuously decreased over time until a transition time around 45 hours; afterwards a continuous increase took place. After the 14th day ADC reached values similar to the ADC of the intact contralateral side (pseudonormalization) and then further increased. Fractional anisotropy (FA) decreased continuously over 3 to 6 months.
Conclusion: Times of transition and pseudonormalization of ADC were longer than described for territorial hemispheric infarcts and describe the acute to subacute phase of brainstem ischemia. In contrast, the continuous decline of FA over 3 to 6 months indicates a chronic process of change of histological structures in brainstem ischemia, and may be regarded as an indicator of the chronic phase.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.