Focal parenchymal lesions in transient ischemic attacks: correlation of computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.
Twenty-two patients with the clinical diagnosis of transient ischemic attacks were prospectively evaluated by computed tomography (CT) and proton magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Nineteen patients also underwent cerebral angiography. The MRI studies were performed with a prototype super-conductive magnet using a 0.6 Tesla or a 1.5 Tesla magnetic field. Two pulse sequence techniques were used resulting in T1 and T2 weighted images. All studies were interpreted descriptively by a single neuroradiologist in a blinded fashion, with special attention to focal parenchymal abnormalities. Patients with previously documented clinical strokes or reversible ischemic neurologic deficits lasting more than 24 hours were excluded. The CT scans revealed focal areas of abnormalities in 7 of 22 patients (32%), while the MRI scans showed focal changes in 17 patients (77%). All the CT lesions were clearly visualized on MRI. The MRI changes were better seen on T2 weighted images as areas of increased signal intensity. There was a marked preponderance of deep hemispheric lesions on both CT and MRI studies. Focal parenchymal abnormalities were not limited to the symptomatic vascular territory. We conclude that MRI reveals focal parenchymal changes in the majority of patients with transient ischemic attacks and is more sensitive than late generation CT scans. However, specificity appears to be poor, and may limit clinical usefulness. While the significance of the MRI "lesions" remains speculative, they may represent markers of chronic cerebrovascular disease in these patients.
- Copyright © 1986 by American Heart Association