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Patients with basilar artery stenosis (n=126; 66 symptomatic and 60 asymptomatic) underwent high-resolution MR imaging. The relationship between imaging findings (intraplaque hemorrhage, contrast enhancement, degree of stenosis, minimal lumen area, and plaque burden) and symptoms was analyzed. Intraplaque hemorrhage was identified in 22 patients (17.5%), including 21 (31.8%) symptomatic patients and 1 (1.7%) asymptomatic patient. Multivariate analysis showed that intraplaque hemorrhage was the strongest independent marker of symptomatic status. Contrast enhancement was also independently associated with symptomatic status. The authors conclude that intraplaque hemorrhage is present in both low- and high-grade stenotic basilar artery plaques and is independently associated with symptomatic stroke status. Intraplaque hemorrhage may identify high-risk plaque and provide new insight into the management of patients with stroke without significant stenosis.

Abstract

Figure 1 from paper
Intraplaque hemorrhage presenting in a low-grade stenotic basilar artery plaque (43% degree of stenosis) in an acute symptomatic female patient (65 years of age). A, T1-weighted black-blood MR imaging shows high signal (fresh IPH, red arrow) in the plaque. B, Postcontrast T1-weighted image shows slight enhancement of the plaque. C, T2-weighted image shows isointense signal of the plaque. D, DWI shows infarct in the brain stem (yellow arrow).

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Intraplaque hemorrhage within intracranial atherosclerotic plaques identified by high-resolution MR imaging has been studied as a potential marker of stroke risk. However, previous studies only examined intracranial arteries with high-grade stenosis (degree of stenosis, >50%). This study aimed to ascertain the clinical relevance of intraplaque hemorrhage in patients with low- and high-grade stenotic basilar artery plaques.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Patients with basilar artery stenosis (n = 126; mean age, 62 ± 10 years; 66 symptomatic and 60 asymptomatic) underwent high-resolution MR imaging. The relationship between imaging findings (intraplaque hemorrhage, contrast enhancement, degree of stenosis, minimal lumen area, and plaque burden) and symptoms was analyzed.

RESULTS

Intraplaque hemorrhage was identified in 22 patients (17.5%), including 21 (31.8%) symptomatic patients and 1 (1.7%) asymptomatic patient. Multivariate analysis showed that intraplaque hemorrhage was the strongest independent marker of symptomatic status (odds ratio, 27.5; 95% CI, 3.4–221.5; P = .002). Contrast enhancement was also independently associated with symptomatic status (odds ratio, 9.9; 95% CI, 1.5–23.6; P = .016). Stenosis, minimal lumen area, and plaque burden were not correlated with symptoms (P > .05). Intraplaque hemorrhage was present in both low- and high-grade stenotic basilar arteries (11.3% versus 16.3%, P = .63). Diagnostic performance values of intraplaque hemorrhage for patients with acute/subacute symptomatic stroke were the following: specificity, 98.3%; sensitivity, 31.8%; positive predictive value, 95.5%; and negative predictive value, 56.7%.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraplaque hemorrhage is present in both low- and high-grade stenotic basilar artery plaques and is independently associated with symptomatic stroke status. Intraplaque hemorrhage may identify high-risk plaque and provide new insight into the management of patient with stroke without significant stenosis.

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