This study analyzed the topography of acute ischemic stroke in the posterior cerebral artery (PCA) territory. We studied 84 patients with unilateral ischemic PCA stroke. Patients were classified according to lesion levels as cortico-subcortical (superficial), combined (cortical and mesodiencephalic) or isolated thalamic. To receive a lesion map, data from acute MR and CT imaging were normalized and labelled automatically by mapping to stereotaxic anatomical atlases. Cortical lesions accounted for 41.7%, combined for 36.9%, and isolated thalamic lesions for 21.4%. The maximum overlay of ischemia and, thus, highest occurrence of PCA ischemic stroke was found in the ventral and medial occipito-temporal cortex and adjacent white matter association tracts. Dorsal and peripheral segments of the occipito-temporo-parietal region were only rarely lesioned. This configuration was similar in both hemispheres. Consistent with this lesion pattern, visual field defects (VFD) were the most frequent signs, followed by sensorimotor signs, dizziness and sopor, cognitive and oculomotor deficits, and ataxia. The three vascular subgroups differed not only by their anatomical lesion profile and lesion load, but also by their clinical manifestation; although patients with combined and thalamic lesions were sigificantly younger, they were more disabled than participants with cortical lesions. VFD were only found in cortical and combined, and oculomotor deficits only in mesodiencephalic lesions. White matter lesions were common in the cortico-subcortical and the combined group. Basal occipito-temporal and calcarine regions, and neighbouring white matter tracts have the highest risk of ischemia in acute PCA stroke.
Keywords: Posterior cerebral artery; Stroke; Topography.
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