Variable appearances of subacute intracranial hematomas on high-field spin-echo MR

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1988 Jan;150(1):171-8. doi: 10.2214/ajr.150.1.171.


Subacute intracranial hematomas have variable appearances on high-field MR images. They are hyperintense on T1-weighted images owing to methemoglobin, but have variable intensities on T2-weighted images. Observation of the different high-field spin-echo MR intensity patterns of five subacute hematomas suggests that further subcategorization into different methemoglobin states may be possible. In particular, undiluted intracellular methemoglobin is hyperintense on T1-weighted images and markedly hypointense on T2-weighted images, undiluted free methemoglobin should be hyperintense on T1-weighted images and isointense or slightly hypointense on T2-weighted images, and dilute free methemoglobin is hyperintense on both T1- and T2-weighted images. However, it appears that certain regions of subacute hematomas may be difficult to differentiate, by intensity patterns alone, from melanotic melanomas or fat. We believe that, despite some limitations, MR is useful in dividing subacute intracranial hematomas into their respective methemoglobin states, and also that further subcategorization is possible.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Hematoma / diagnosis*
  • Hematoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed