Surgical Revascularization Reverses Cerebral Cortical Thinning in Patients With Severe Cerebrovascular Steno-Occlusive Disease
Background and Purpose—Chronic deficiencies in regional blood flow lead to cerebral cortical thinning without evidence of gross tissue loss at the same time as potentially negatively impacting on neurological and cognitive performance. This is most pronounced in patients with severe occlusive cerebrovascular disease in whom affected brain areas exhibit “steal physiology,” a paradoxical reduction of cerebral blood flow in response to a global vasodilatory stimulus intended to increase blood flow. We tested whether surgical brain revascularization that eliminates steal physiology can reverse cortical thinning.
Methods—We identified 29 patients from our database who had undergone brain revascularization with pre- and postoperative studies of cerebrovascular reactivity using blood oxygen(ation) level-dependent MRI and whose preoperative study exhibited steal physiology without MRI-evident structural abnormalities. Cortical thickness in regions corresponding to steal physiology, and where applicable corresponding areas in the normal hemisphere, were measured using Freesurfer software.
Results—At an average of 11 months after surgery, cortical thickness increased in every successfully revascularized hemisphere (n=30). Mean cortical thickness in the revascularized regions increased by 5.1% (from 2.40±0.03 to 2.53±0.03; P<0.0001).
Conclusions—Successful regional revascularization and reversal of steal physiology is followed by restoration of cortical thickness.
- Received November 12, 2010.
- Revision received December 15, 2010.
- Accepted December 16, 2010.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.