Recent technical advances in MR imaging have enabled the authors to investigate early physiological changes in acute ischemic stroke lesion. Diffusion and perfusion MR imaging can provide clinically useful information not only for early detection of ischemia, but also for prediction of tissue outcome. MR spectroscopy is a potentially powerful tool to study acute stroke, but its clinical value has been limited due to long examination time and low spatial resolution.
PURPOSE: To (a) determine the optimal choice of a scalar metric of anisotropy and (b) determine by means of magnetic resonance imaging if changes in diffusion anisotropy occurred in acute human ischemic stroke.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The full diffusion tensor over the entire brain was measured. To optimize the choice of a scalar anisotropy metric, the performances of scalar indices in simulated models and in a healthy volunteer were analyzed. The anisotropy, trace apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), and eigenvalues of the diffusion tensor in lesions and contralateral normal brain were compared in 50 patients with stroke.
RESULTS: Changes in anisotropy in patients were quantified by using fractional anisotropy because it provided the best performance in terms of contrast-to-noise ratio as a function of signal-to-noise ratio in simulations. The anisotropy of ischemic white matter decreased (P = .01). Changes in anisotropy in ischemic gray matter were not significant (P = .63). The trace ADC decreased for ischemic gray matter and white matter (P < .001). The first and second eigenvalues decreased in both ischemic gray and ischemic white matter (P < .001). The third eigenvalue decreased in ischemic gray (P = .001) and white matter (P = .03).
CONCLUSION: Gray matter is mildly anisotropic in normal and early ischemic states. However, early white matter ischemia is associated with not only changes in trace ADC values but also significant changes in the anisotropy, or shape, of the water self-diffusion tensor.
BACKGROUND: Diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) represents a major advance in the early diagnosis of acute ischemic stroke. When abnormal in patients with stroke-like deficit, DWI usually establishes the presence and location of ischemic brain injury. However, this is not always the case.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate patients with stroke-like deficits occurring without DWI abnormalities in brain regions clinically suspected to be responsible.
METHODS: We identified 27 of 782 consecutive patients scanned when stroke-like neurologic deficits were still present and who had normal DWI in the brain region(s) clinically implicated. Based on all the clinical and radiologic data, we attempted to arrive at a pathophysiologic diagnosis in each.
RESULTS: Best final diagnosis was a stroke mimic in 37% and a cerebral ischemic event in 63%. Stroke mimics (10 patients) included migraine, seizures, functional disorder, transient global amnesia, and brain tumor. The remaining patients were considered to have had cerebral ischemic events: lacunar syndrome (7 patients; 3 with infarcts demonstrated subsequently) and hemispheric cortical syndrome (10 patients; 5 with TIA, 2 with prolonged reversible deficits, 3 with infarction on follow-up imaging). In each of the latter three patients, the regions destined to infarct showed decreased perfusion on the initial hemodynamically weighted MRI (HWI).
CONCLUSIONS: Normal DWI in patients with stroke-like deficits should stimulate a search for nonischemic cause of symptoms. However, more than one-half of such patients have an ischemic cause as the best clinical diagnosis. Small brainstem lacunar infarctions may escape detection. Concomitant HWI can identify some patients with brain ischemia that is symptomatic but not yet to the stage of causing DWI abnormality.
Using perfusion weighted imaging, we studied 28 spontaneous migraine episodes; 7 during visual aura (n = 6), 7 during the headache phase following visual aura (n = 3), and 14 cases of migraine without aura (n = 13). The data were analyzed using a region-of-interest-based approach. During aura, relative cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was significantly decreased (27% +/- 0.07) in occipital cortex contralateral to the affected hemifield. rCBV was decreased (15% +/- 0.12) and mean transit time increased (32% +/- 0.3), persisting up to 2.5 h into the headache phase. Other brain regions did not show significant perfusion changes. During migraine without aura, no significant hemodynamic changes were observed. In one patient who experienced both migraine with and without aura, perfusion deficits were observed only during migraine with aura. These findings suggest that decremental blood flow changes in occipital lobe are most characteristic of migraine with aura.