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Neuroradiology. 2004 Mar;46(3):183-8. Epub 2004 Feb 27.

Transient detection of early wallerian degeneration on diffusion-weighted MRI after an acute cerebrovascular accident.

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Department of Radiology, Saga Medical School, 5-1-1 Nabeshima, Saga, 849-8501, Japan.


We report three patients with a cerebrovascular accident studied serially by MRI, including diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI). In case 1, DWI 1 day after the onset of left frontoparietal cortical infarcts showed no abnormal signal in the left corticospinal tract. DWI 12 days after onset showed high signal in the corticospinal tract, interpreted as early wallerian degeneration. This had disappeared by 22 days after onset. In case 2, DWI obtained 7 days after the onset of a right internal capsule lacunar infarct showed high signal from the right corticospinal tract in the brainstem, which was less marked 15 days after onset. In case 3, MRI on postnatal day 7 showed a cerebral haemorrhage in the right corona radiata and high signal from the right corticospinal tract on DWI. The latter disappeared by day 23. DWI shows early wallerian degeneration; transient signal abnormalities within 2 weeks of stroke should not be mistaken for new ischaemic lesions.

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