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Differential Features of Culprit Intracranial Atherosclerotic Lesions: A Whole‐Brain Vessel Wall Imaging Study in Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke


Intracranial atherosclerotic disease tends to affect multiple arterial segments. Using whole-brain vessel wall imaging, we sought to study the differences in plaque features among various types of plaques in patients with a recent unilateral anterior circulation ischemic stroke. Sixty-one patients with unilateral anterior circulation ischemic stroke were referred to undergo whole-brain vessel wall imaging (before and after contrast) within 1 month of symptom onset for intracranial atherosclerotic disease evaluations. Each plaque was classified as a culprit, probably culprit, or nonculprit lesion, according to its likelihood of causing the stroke. The associations between plaque features (thickening pattern, plaque-wall contrast ratio, high signal on T1-weighted images, plaque contrast enhancement ratio, enhancement grade, and enhancement pattern) and culprit lesions were estimated using mixed multivariable logistic regression after adjustment for maximum wall thickness. In 52 patients without motion corruption in whole-brain vessel wall imaging, a total of 178 intracranial plaques in the anterior circulation were identified, including 52 culprit lesions (29.2%), 51 probably culprit lesions (28.7%), and 75 nonculprit lesions (42.1%). High signal on T1-weighted images (adjusted odds ratio, 9.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.9-44.1; P=0.006), grade 2 (enhancement ratio of plaque ≥ enhancement ratio of pituitary) contrast enhancement (adjusted odds ratio, 17.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.8-164.9; P=0.013), and type 2 (≥50% cross-sectional wall involvement) enhancement pattern (adjusted odds ratio, 10.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-82.2; P=0.030) were independently associated with culprit lesions. High signal on T1-weighted images, grade 2 contrast enhancement, and type 2 enhancement pattern are associated with cerebrovascular ischemic events, which may provide valuable insights into risk stratification.

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