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Stroke. 1999 Oct;30(10):2053-8.

Magnetic resonance imaging white matter hyperintensities and mechanism of ischemic stroke.

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Department of Radiology, Memory Research Unit, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.



We sought to determine the relations between infarct subtype and white matter hyperintensities (WMHIs) on MRI.


We studied 395 ischemic stroke patients with 1. 0-T MRI. The number of lacunar, border-zone, and cortical infarcts was registered. WMHIs were analyzed in 6 areas. Univariate and multivariate statistical analyses were used to find the risk factors for different infarct subtypes and to study the connections between WMHIs and brain infarcts.


Lacunar infarcts were associated with hypertension (odds ratio [OR], 1.79; 95% CI, 1.17 to 2.73), alcohol consumption (OR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.17 to 3.28), and age (OR, 1. 03; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.06). Border-zone infarcts were associated with carotid atherosclerosis (OR, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.15 to 4.19). Atrial fibrillation (OR, 3.02; 95% CI, 1.66 to 5.50) and carotid atherosclerosis (OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.12 to 3.36) were independent positive predictors, and history of hyperlipidemia (OR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.26 to 0.75) and migraine (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.25 to 0.93) were negative predictors for cortical infarcts. Patients with lacunar infarcts had more severe WMHIs than patients with nonlacunar infarcts in all WM areas (P</=0.001). Patients with border-zone infarcts showed severe periventricular lesions (P=0.002), especially around posterior horns (P=0.003). The extent of WMHIs in patients with cortical infarcts did not differ from that in those without cortical infarcts.


Various infarct subtypes have different risk profiles. The association between lacunar infarcts and WMHIs supports the concept of small-vessel disease underlying these 2 phenomena. The connection between border-zone infarcts and periventricular WMHIs again raises the question of the disputed periventricular vascular border zone.

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