The MR scans of seven patients with intracranial carotid occlusion (five proved, two presumed) were reviewed to evaluate the MR signal characteristics seen in this disorder. Five patients had clinical signs of cerebral infarction. Of the remaining two patients, one was asymptomatic and the other had a long-standing occlusion and headaches. We correlated the MR findings with cerebral angiography in five patients and with CT scans in six patients. All occluded vessels demonstrated MR signal predominantly isointense to brain on proton-density- T1- and T2-weighted images. Since there is an absence of flow, the MR signal is based on the intrinsic properties of the arterial thrombus and possibly on the chronicity of the occlusion. The pathogenesis and histopathology of intravascular thrombus differ significantly from extravascular hematoma, which accounts for the difference in their MR signal characteristics. The demonstration of occluded intracranial vessels may solidify the diagnosis of stroke in cases in which clinical and/or CT findings are equivocal. In patients presenting with infarction, an occluded carotid artery by MR may obviate the need for angiography; however, the demonstration of a patent carotid in conjunction with infarction suggests the possibility of an embolus, which may require angiography. We believe that MR is a valuable adjunct to CT in evaluating patients with cerebrovascular infarction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging