Objectives: Previous studies using intracranial vessel wall MRI techniques showed that over 50 % of patients with ischemic stroke or TIA had one or more intracranial vessel wall lesions. In the current study, we assessed the preferential location of these lesions within the intracranial arterial tree and their potential changes over time in these patient groups.
Methods: Forty-nine patients with ischemic stroke (n = 25) or TIA (n = 24) of the anterior cerebral circulation underwent 7.0 T MRI, including a T1-weighted magnetization-preparation inversion recovery turbo-spin-echo (MPIR-TSE) sequence within one week and approximately one month after symptom onset. Intracranial vessel wall lesions were scored for multiple locations within the arterial tree and differences between one-week and one-month images.
Results: At baseline, 132 intracranial vessel wall lesions were found in 41 patients (84 %), located primarily in the anterior cerebral circulation (74 %), with a preferential location in the distal internal carotid artery and M1 and M2 segments of the middle cerebral artery. During follow-up, presence or enhancement patterns changed in 14 lesions (17 %).
Conclusions: A large burden of intracranial vessel wall lesions was found in both the anterior and posterior cerebral circulation. Most lesions were found to be relatively stable, possibly indicating a more generalized atherosclerotic process.
Key points: • Intracranial vessel wall lesions are present in patients with varying cerebrovascular diseases. • Intracranial vessel wall 7.0 T MRI provides information on preferential location and natural course. • Distal ICA and M1 and M2 segments of MCA are predilection sites. • 83 % of lesions found remained stable, possibly indicating more generalized atherosclerosis.