MR Imaging Measures of Intracranial Atherosclerosis in a Population-based Study

Radiology. 2016 Sep;280(3):860-8. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2016151124. Epub 2016 Mar 29.


Purpose To implement a magnetic resonance (MR) imaging protocol to measure intracranial atherosclerotic disease (ICAD) in a population-based multicenter study and report examination and reader reliability of these MR imaging measurements and descriptive statistics representative of the general population. Materials and Methods This prospective study was approved by the institutional review boards and compliant with HIPAA. Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study participants (n = 1980) underwent brain MR imaging from 2011 to 2013 at four ARIC sites. Imaging included three-dimensional black-blood MR imaging and time-of-flight MR angiography. One hundred two participants returned for repeat MR imaging to estimate examination and reader variability. Plaque presence according to vessel segment was recorded. Quantitative measurements included lumen size and degree of stenosis, wall and/or plaque thickness, area and volume, and normalized wall index for each vessel segment. Reliability was assessed with percentage agreement, κ statistics, and intraclass correlation coefficients. Results Of the 1980 participants, 1755 (mean age, 77.6 years; 1026 women [59%]; 1234 white [70%]) completed examinations with adequate to excellent image quality. The weighted ICAD prevalence was 34.4% (637 of 1755 participants) and was higher in men than women (38.5% [302 of 729 participants] vs 31.7% [335 of 1026 participants], respectively; P = .012) and in African Americans compared with whites (41.1% [215 of 518 participants] vs 32.4% [422 of 1234 participants], respectively; P = .002). Percentage agreement of plaque identification per participant was 87.0% (interreader estimate), 89.2% (intrareader estimate), and 89.9% (examination estimate). Examination and reader reliability ranged from fair to good (κ, 0.50-0.78) for plaque presence and from good to excellent (intraclass correlation coefficient, 0.69-0.99) for quantitative vessel wall measurements. Conclusion Vessel wall MR imaging is a reliable tool for identifying and measuring ICAD and provided insight into ICAD distribution across a U.S. community-based population. (©) RSNA, 2016 Online supplemental material is available for this article.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results