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Brain. 2011 Aug;134(Pt 8):2376-86. doi: 10.1093/brain/awr172.

Acute ischaemic brain lesions in intracerebral haemorrhage: multicentre cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging study.

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UCL Institute of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London WC1N 3BG, UK.


Subclinical acute ischaemic lesions on brain magnetic resonance imaging have recently been described in spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage, and may be important to understand pathophysiology and guide treatment. The underlying mechanisms are uncertain. We tested the hypothesis that ischaemic lesions are related to magnetic resonance imaging markers of the severity and type of small-vessel disease (hypertensive arteriopathy or cerebral amyloid angiopathy) in a multicentre, cross-sectional study. We studied consecutive patients with intracerebral haemorrhage from four specialist stroke centres, and age-matched stroke service referrals without intracerebral haemorrhage. Acute ischaemic lesions were assessed on magnetic resonance imaging (<3 months after intracerebral haemorrhage) using diffusion-weighted imaging. White matter changes and cerebral microbleeds were rated with validated scales. We investigated associations between diffusion-weighted imaging lesions, clinical and radiological characteristics. We included 114 patients with intracerebral haemorrhage (39 with clinically probable cerebral amyloid angiopathy) and 47 age-matched controls. The prevalence of diffusion-weighted imaging lesions was 9/39 (23%) in probable cerebral amyloid angiopathy-related intracerebral haemorrhage versus 6/75 (8%) in the remaining patients with intracerebral haemorrhage (P = 0.024); no diffusion-weighted imaging lesions were found in controls. Diffusion-weighted imaging lesions were mainly cortical and were associated with mean white matter change score (odds ratio 1.14 per unit increase, 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.28, P = 0.024) and the presence of strictly lobar cerebral microbleeds (odds ratio 3.85, 95% confidence interval 1.15-12.93, P = 0.029). Acute, subclinical ischaemic brain lesions are frequent but previously underestimated after intracerebral haemorrhage, and are three times more common in cerebral amyloid angiopathy-related intracerebral haemorrhage than in other intracerebral haemorrhage types. Ischaemic brain lesions are associated with white matter changes and cerebral microbleeds, suggesting that they result from an occlusive small-vessel arteriopathy. Diffusion-weighted imaging lesions contribute to the overall burden of vascular-related brain damage in intracerebral haemorrhage, and may be a useful surrogate marker of ongoing ischaemic injury from small-vessel damage.

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