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Magnetic resonance angiography signal intensity as a marker of hemodynamic impairment in intracranial arterial stenosis.



Intracranial arterial stenosis (ICAS) is the predominant cause of ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack in Asia. Change of signal intensities (SI) across an ICAS on magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) may reflect its hemodynamic severity.


In-patients with a symptomatic single ICAS detected on 3D time-of-flight MRA were recruited from 2 hospitals. Baseline and 1-year follow-up data were collected. Signal intensity ratio (SIR) [ =  (mean post-stenotic SI -mean background SI)/(mean pre-stenotic SI - mean background SI)] was evaluated on baseline MRA to represent change of SIs across an ICAS. Acute infarct volume was measured on baseline diffusion-weighted images (DWI). Relationships between SIR and baseline characteristics as well as 1y outcomes were evaluated.


Thirty-six subjects (86.1% males, mean age 55.0) were recruited. Overall, mean SIR was 0.84±0.23. Mean SIRs were not significantly different between the 23 (63.9%) anatomically severe stenoses and the 13 (36.1%) anatomically moderate stenoses (0.80±0.23 versus 0.92±0.21, p = 0.126). SIR was significantly, linearly and negatively correlated to acute infarct volume on DWI (Spearman correlation coefficient -0.471, p = 0.011). Two patients (5.6%) had recurrent ischemic strokes at 1y, not related to SIR values.


Change of signal intensities across an ICAS on MRA may reflect its hemodynamic and functional severity. Future studies are warranted to further verify the relationships between this index and prognosis of patients with symptomatic ICAS.

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