Background: Intracranial atherosclerosis is associated with frequent stroke recurrence. High resolution vessel wall magnetic resonance imaging (HRMRI) can provide atheroma information related to its vulnerability.
Aims: We performed HRMRI in stroke patients with intracranial atherosclerosis to determine whether plaque characteristics from vessel wall imaging can predict future stroke recurrence.
Methods: Between July 2011 and June 2013, acute stroke patients with symptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis were prospectively enrolled and 3-tesla HRMRI was performed on the relevant artery. The plaque enhancement was visually determined from T1 post-gadolinium enhancement image. Stroke recurrence was monitored after index event and multivariate Cox proportional hazards model was constructed to identify factors related to future stroke recurrence.
Results: A total of 138 patients were included with a median follow-up of 18 months. There were 39 stroke recurrences. Plaque enhancement was detected in 108 patients (78.3%), and 37 of them experienced stroke recurrence. Among 30 stroke patients without plaque enhancement, two patients experienced stroke recurrence. Kaplan-Meier curves demonstrated a significant difference in event free survival between the patients with plaque enhancement and those patients without plaque enhancement (event rates at year 1: 30.3% vs. 6.8%, log-rank test, p = 0.004). Multivariate Cox-regression analysis showed that the plaque enhancement from HRMRI was independently associated with stroke recurrence (hazard ratio: 7.42, 95% confidence interval: 1.74-31.75, p = 0.007).
Conclusion: Intracranial plaque enhancement from HRMRI is associated with stroke recurrence among the patients with symptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; cerebral infarction; vessel wall magnetic resonance imaging.
© 2016 World Stroke Organization.