Imaging of Cerebrovascular Disease in Pregnancy and the Puerperium

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2016 Jan;206(1):26-38. doi: 10.2214/AJR.15.15059. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


Objective: The purpose of this article is to review the unique physiologic changes that characterize pregnancy and the puerperium, some that substantially affect the cerebrovascular system. Conditions that can cause neurologic deterioration and share features with preeclampsia-eclampsia include postpartum angiopathy, reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome, and amniotic fluid embolism. Other conditions not specific to this patient group include cerebral venous thrombosis, cervicocephalic arterial dissection, ischemic stroke, and hemorrhagic stroke, which can pose specific diagnostic and therapeutic challenges.

Conclusion: Radiologists must be familiar with the imaging findings of cerebrovascular complications and pathologic entities encountered during pregnancy and the puerperium. Ongoing improvements in understanding of molecular changes during pregnancy and the puerperium and advances in diagnostic tests should allow radiologists to continue to make important contributions to the care of this patient population.

Keywords: MRI; cerebrovascular; postpartum; pregnancy; stroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / diagnosis*
  • Puerperal Disorders / diagnosis*