The present study aimed to evaluate the utility of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the characterization of atherosclerotic plaques in patients with acute and non-acute cerebral infarction. High-resolution MRI of unilateral stenotic middle cerebral arteries was performed to evaluate the degree of stenosis, the wall and plaque areas, plaque enhancement patterns and lumen remodeling features in 15 and 17 patients with acute and non-acute cerebral infarction, respectively. No significant difference was identified in the vascular stenosis rate between acute and non-acute patients. Overall, plaque eccentricity was observed in 29 patients, including 13 acute and 16 non-acute cases, with no significant difference identified between these groups. The wall area of stenotic arteries and the number of cases with plaque enhancement were significantly greater in the acute patients, but no significant difference in plaque or lumen area was identified between the 2 patient groups. Lumen remodeling patterns of stenotic arteries significantly differed between the acute and non-acute patients; the former predominantly demonstrated positive remodeling, and the latter group demonstrated evidence of negative remodeling. In conclusion, patients with acute and non-acute cerebral infarction exhibit specific characteristics in stenotic arteries and plaques, which can be effectively evaluated by high-resolution MRI.
Keywords: atherosclerosis; high resolution; magnetic resonance imaging; plaque; stroke.