Brain white matter hyperintensities are associated with carotid intraplaque hemorrhage

Radiology. 2008 Jul;248(1):202-9. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2481070300.


Purpose: To retrospectively assess the relationship between carotid intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH), which indicates plaque instability, and brain white matter hyperintense lesions (WMHLs) by using a within-patient design.

Materials and methods: All patients gave written informed consent for the initial magnetic resonance (MR) studies, and the institutional review board and local research ethics committee waived initial informed consent for the pooled analysis. A total of 190 patients with symptomatic carotid artery disease underwent fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery imaging of the brain and fat-suppressed black-blood T1-weighted MR imaging of the carotid arteries. The volumes of periventricular lesions, subcortical lesions, and total WMHLs were calculated and compared between hemispheres in relation to symptoms and IPH, and their interaction was calculated and compared by using repeated measures three-factorial multivariate analysis.

Results: After exclusion of 12 patients, 178 patients (116 men, 62 women; mean age, 70.2 years +/- 8.6 [standard deviation]) remained. There was no significant difference in WMHL volume between the symptomatic and asymptomatic hemispheres, and WMHL volume was not related to the degree of carotid stenosis. The presence of carotid IPH significantly interacted with the interhemispheric WMHL difference (Wilks lambda test, F = 9.95; df = 3; P < .001). Univariate analysis showed larger total and periventricular WMHL volumes (P < .05) in patients with ipsilateral IPH.

Conclusion: Carotid artery disease and leukoaraiosis were associated with features that indicated plaque instability, namely IPH, whereas the degree of stenosis had no effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / complications*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukoaraiosis / complications*
  • Leukoaraiosis / diagnosis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology*