The brains of six healthy volunteers were scanned with a full tensor diffusion MRI technique to study the effect of a high b value on diffusion-weighted images (DWIs). The b values ranged from 500 to 5000 s/mm(2). Isotropic DWIs, trace apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps, and fractional anisotropy (FA) maps were created for each b value. As the b value increased, ADC decreased in both the gray and white matter. Furthermore, ADC of the white matter became lower than that of the gray matter, and, as a result, the white matter became brighter than the gray matter in the isotropic DWIs. Quantitative analysis showed that these changes were due to nonmonoexponential diffusion signal decay of the brain tissue, which was more prominent in white matter than in gray matter. There was no significant change in relation to the b value in the FA maps. High b value appears to have a dissociating effect on gray and white matter in DWIs.
PURPOSE: To determine whether the evolution of the core apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) of water in ischemic stroke varies with patient age or infarct etiology.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred forty-seven patients with stroke underwent 236 diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging examinations. Etiologies of lesions were classified according to predefined criteria; in 224 images, the diagnosis of lacune could be firmly established or excluded. ADC was measured in the center of each lesion and in contralateral normal-appearing brain. A model was used to describe the time course of relative ADC (rADC), which is calculated by dividing the lesion ADC by the contralateral ADC, and to test for age- or etiology-related differences in this time course.
RESULTS: Transition from decreasing to increasing rADC was estimated at 18.5 hours after stroke onset. In subgroup analysis, transition was earlier in nonlacunes than in lacunes (P =.02). There was a trend toward earlier transition in patients older than the median age of 66.0 years, compared with younger patients (P =.06). Pseudonormalization was estimated at 216 hours. Among nonlacunes, the rate of subsequent rADC increase was more rapid in younger patients than in older patients (P =.001). Within the smaller sample of lacunes, however, no significant age-related difference in this rate was found.
CONCLUSION: Differences in ADC depending on the patient's age and infarct etiology suggest differing rates of ADC progression.
Cortical spreading depression (CSD) has been suggested to underlie migraine visual aura. However, it has been challenging to test this hypothesis in human cerebral cortex. Using high-field functional MRI with near-continuous recording during visual aura in three subjects, we observed blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal changes that demonstrated at least eight characteristics of CSD, time-locked to percept/onset of the aura. Initially, a focal increase in BOLD signal (possibly reflecting vasodilation), developed within extrastriate cortex (area V3A). This BOLD change progressed contiguously and slowly (3.5 +/- 1.1 mm/min) over occipital cortex, congruent with the retinotopy of the visual percept. Following the same retinotopic progression, the BOLD signal then diminished (possibly reflecting vasoconstriction after the initial vasodilation), as did the BOLD response to visual activation. During periods with no visual stimulation, but while the subject was experiencing scintillations, BOLD signal followed the retinotopic progression of the visual percept. These data strongly suggest that an electrophysiological event such as CSD generates the aura in human visual cortex.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Tissue signatures from acute MR imaging of the brain may be able to categorize physiological status and thereby assist clinical decision making. We designed and analyzed statistical algorithms to evaluate the risk of infarction for each voxel of tissue using acute human functional MRI.
METHODS: Diffusion-weighted MR images (DWI) and perfusion-weighted MR images (PWI) from acute stroke patients scanned within 12 hours of symptom onset were retrospectively studied and used to develop thresholding and generalized linear model (GLM) algorithms predicting tissue outcome as determined by follow-up MRI. The performances of the algorithms were evaluated for each patient by using receiver operating characteristic curves.
RESULTS: At their optimal operating points, thresholding algorithms combining DWI and PWI provided 66% sensitivity and 83% specificity, and GLM algorithms combining DWI and PWI predicted with 66% sensitivity and 84% specificity voxels that proceeded to infarct. Thresholding algorithms that combined DWI and PWI provided significant improvement to algorithms that utilized DWI alone (P=0.02) but no significant improvement over algorithms utilizing PWI alone (P=0.21). GLM algorithms that combined DWI and PWI showed significant improvement over algorithms that used only DWI (P=0.02) or PWI (P=0.04). The performances of thresholding and GLM algorithms were comparable (P>0.2).
CONCLUSIONS: Algorithms that combine acute DWI and PWI can assess the risk of infarction with higher specificity and sensitivity than algorithms that use DWI or PWI individually. Methods for quantitatively assessing the risk of infarction on a voxel-by-voxel basis show promise as techniques for investigating the natural spatial evolution of ischemic damage in humans.
Functional recovery after stroke has been associated with brain plasticity; however, the exact relationship is unknown. We performed behavioral tests, functional MRI, and histology in a rat stroke model to assess the correlation between temporal changes in sensorimotor function, brain activation patterns, cerebral ischemic damage, and cerebrovascular reactivity. Unilateral stroke induced a large ipsilateral infarct and acute dysfunction of the contralateral forelimb, which significantly recovered at later stages. Forelimb impairment was accompanied by loss of stimulus-induced activation in the ipsilesional sensorimotor cortex; however, local tissue and perfusion were only moderately affected and cerebrovascular reactivity was preserved in this area. At 3 days after stroke, extensive activation-induced responses were detected in the contralesional hemisphere. After 14 days, we found reduced involvement of the contralesional hemisphere, and significant responses in the infarction periphery. Our data suggest that limb dysfunction is related to loss of brain activation in the ipsilesional sensorimotor cortex and that restoration of function is associated with biphasic recruitment of peri- and contralesional functional fields in the brain.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The heterogeneity of microvascular flows is known to be an important determinant of the efficacy of oxygen delivery to tissue. Studies in animals have demonstrated decreased flow heterogeneity (FH) in states of decreased perfusion pressure. The purpose of the present study was to assess microvascular FH changes in acute stroke with use of a novel perfusion-weighted MRI technique and to evaluate the ability of combined diffusion-weighted MRI and FH measurements to predict final infarct size.
METHODS: Cerebral blood flow, FH, and plasma mean transit time (MTT) were measured in 11 patients who presented with acute (<12 hours after symptom onset) stroke. Final infarct size was determined with follow-up MRI or CT scanning.
RESULTS: In normal brain tissue, the distribution of relative flows was markedly skewed toward high capillary flow velocities. Within regions of decreased cerebral blood flow, plasma MTT was prolonged. Furthermore, subregions were identified with significant loss of the high-flow component of the flow distribution, thereby causing increased homogeneity of flow velocities. In parametric maps that quantify the acute deviation of FH from that of normal tissue, areas of extreme homogenization of capillary flows predicted final infarct size on follow-up scans of 10 of 11 patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Flow heterogeneity and MTT can be rapidly assessed as part of a routine clinical MR examination and may provide a tool for planning of individual stroke treatment, as well as in targeting and evaluation of emerging therapeutic strategies.
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.
The precise characterization of cortical connectivity is important for the understanding of brain morphological and functional organization. Such connectivity is conveyed by specific pathways or tracts in the white matter. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging detects the diffusivity of water molecules in three dimensions. Diffusivity is anisotropic in oriented tissues such as fiber tracts. In the present study, we used this method to map (in terms of orientation, location, and size) the "stem" (compact portion) of the principal association, projection, and commissural white matter pathways of the human brain in vivo, in 3 normal subjects. In addition, its use in clinical neurology is illustrated in a patient with left inferior parietal lobule embolic infarction in whom a significant reduction in relative size of the stem of the left superior longitudinal fasciculus was observed. This represents an important method for the characterization of major association pathways in the living human that are not discernible by conventional magnetic resonance imaging. In the clinical domain, this method will have a potential impact on the understanding of the diseases that involve white matter such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, head injury, and spinal cord injury.