Intracranial Atherosclerosis: From Microscopy to High-Resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging

J Stroke. 2017 Sep;19(3):249-260. doi: 10.5853/jos.2016.01956. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


Intracranial atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of ischemic stroke and occurs more commonly in patients of Asian, African or Hispanic origin than in Caucasians. Although the histopathology of intracranial atherosclerotic disease resembles extracranial atherosclerosis, there are some notable differences in the onset and severity of atherosclerosis. Current understanding of intracranial atherosclerotic disease has been advanced by the high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (HRMRI), a novel emerging imaging technique that can directly visualize the vessel wall pathology. However, the pathological validation of HRMRI signal characteristics remains a key step to depict the plaque components and vulnerability in intracranial atherosclerotic lesions. The purpose of this review is to describe the histological features of intracranial atherosclerosis and to state current evidences regarding the validation of MR vessel wall imaging with histopathology.

Keywords: Autopsy; Histology; Intracranial atherosclerosis; Magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Review