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Vessel wall magnetic resonance and arterial spin labelling imaging in the management of presumed inflammatory intracranial arterial vasculopathy.

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Lim, E 
Sokolska, M 
Markus, J 
Zaletel, T 


Optimal criteria for diagnosing and monitoring response to treatment for infectious and inflammatory medium-large vessel intracranial vasculitis presenting with stroke are lacking. We integrated intracranial vessel wall MRI with arterial spin labelling into our routine clinical stroke pathway to detect presumed inflammatory intracranial arterial vasculopathy, and monitor disease activity, in patients with clinical stroke syndromes. We used predefined standardized radiological criteria to define vessel wall enhancement, and all imaging findings were rated blinded to clinical details. Between 2017 and 2018, stroke or transient ischaemic attack patients were first screened in our vascular radiology meeting and followed up in a dedicated specialist stroke clinic if a diagnosis of medium-large inflammatory intracranial arterial vasculopathy was radiologically confirmed. Treatment was determined and monitored by a multi-disciplinary team. In this case series, 11 patients were managed in this period from the cohort of young stroke presenters (<55 years). The median age was 36 years (interquartile range: 33,50), of which 8 of 11 (73%) were female. Two of 11 (18%) had herpes virus infection confirmed by viral nucleic acid in the cerebrospinal fluid. We showed improvement in cerebral perfusion at 1 year using an arterial spin labelling sequence in patients taking immunosuppressive therapy for >4 weeks compared with those not receiving therapy [6 (100%) versus 2 (40%) P = 0.026]. Our findings demonstrate the potential utility of vessel wall magnetic resonance with arterial spin labelling imaging in detecting and monitoring medium-large inflammatory intracranial arterial vasculopathy activity for patients presenting with stroke symptoms, limiting the need to progress to brain biopsy. Further systematic studies in unselected populations of stroke patients are needed to confirm our findings and establish the prevalence of medium-large artery wall inflammation.



ASL, cerebral vasculitis, neuroinflammation, stroke, vessel wall MR

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Brain Commun

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
Wellcome Trust (222102/Z/20/Z)