J Nippon Med Sch 2011 ;78(6):367-73
Abashiri Neurosurgical Rehabilitation Hospital, Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan.
Background And Purpose: There is no consensus regarding the optimal method for diagnosing the dissection of intracranial arteries. We have developed a rapid and accurate examination method to diagnose vertebral artery dissection in the acute stage of cerebral infarction.
Methods: Twenty-two patients with severe headache and neck pain and/or symptoms of brain stem or cerebellar ischemia underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a 1.5-T scanner. Our protocol generated 3 contrast-weighted scans (T2-weighted, diffusion-weighted, and basi-parallel anatomical scanning [BPAS]-MRI) and conventional angiographs within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms. Then, we retrospectively analyzed the findings to identify the most reliable imaging method for diagnosing vertebral artery dissection in the acute stage of cerebral infarction.
Results: Based on the symptoms and the findings of T2-weighted imaging and conventional angiography, the initial diagnosis was dissection in 17 patients, lacunar infarction in 3 patients, and atherothrombosis in 2 patients. After follow-up studies the diagnosis was changed in 7 patients. The diagnosis based on symptoms and the findings of T2-weighted MRI and BPAS-MRI was dissection in 13 patients, atherothrombosis in 6 patients, and lacunar infarction in 3 patients. In 3 patients the diagnosis was changed during the follow-up phase.
Conclusions: The diagnostic accuracy rate was higher with T2-weighted MRI and BPAS-MRI than with T2-weighted MRI and conventional angiography. We suggest that when intracranial vascular dissection is suspected, both the inner and outer contours of vessels must be inspected and that BPAS-MRI should be performed instead of conventional angiography to establish the definite diagnosis.