Objective: MR imaging has a high sensitivity for detecting ischemic brain parenchyma. The aim of this study was to evaluate the changes in the signal intensity of infarcted brain parenchyma on MR images obtained within the first 3 hr after the onset of signs and symptoms in patients with embolic cerebral infarction.
Materials and methods: We studied MR images of 16 patients who had a diagnosis of embolic cerebral infarction (highly probable according to criteria of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke). T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and proton density-weighted MR images were obtained within 3 hr after the onset of symptoms. Two neuroradiologists who had no knowledge of the diagnoses reviewed the MR images of these 16 patients and 20 control subjects in random order and evaluated signal-intensity changes in the gray and white matter.
Results: On proton density-weighted images, the central and cortical gray matter showed increased signal intensity in 63-69% and 88-94% of the patients, respectively. No abnormalities of the brain parenchyma were apparent on T1-weighted and T2-weighted images obtained within 3 hr after the onset of symptoms. The adjacent white matter appeared hyperintense on long TR images in only a few cases.
Conclusion: An increased signal intensity in the gray matter on proton density-weighted images was the most characteristic parenchymal change seen on MR images of the brain obtained within 3 hr after embolic cerebral infarction.