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Stroke. 2012 Jul;43(7):1837-42. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.647859.

Cavitation after acute symptomatic lacunar stroke depends on time, location, and MRI sequence.

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Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T3C 2H8.



Definitions for chronic lacunar infarcts vary. Recent retrospective studies suggest that many acute lacunar strokes do not develop a cavitated appearance. We determined the characteristics of acute lacunar infarcts on follow-up MRI in consecutive patients participating in prospective research studies.


Patients with acute lacunar infarction on diffusion-weighted imaging were selected from 3 prospective cohort studies of minor stroke imaged within <24 hours of onset. Follow-up MRI was performed at 30 days (Vascular Imaging of Acute Stroke for Identifying Predictors of Clinical Outcome and Recurrent Ischemic Events [VISION] study, n=21) or 90 days (VISION-2 and CT and MRI in the Triage of TIA and Minor Cerebrovascular Events to Identify High Risk Patients [CATCH] studies, n=34). Evidence of cavitation on MRI was rated separately on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, T1, and T2 sequences by 2 independent study physicians; discrepant readings were resolved by consensus.


Probable or definite cavitation on any sequence was more common at 90 days compared with 30 days (P≤0.001 for all sequences). At 90 days, evidence of cavitation was seen on at least 1 sequence in 33 of 34 patients (97%). The T1-weighted sequence was most sensitive to the presence of cavitation (94% at 90 days). By contrast, the fluid-attenuated inversion recovery sequence frequently failed to show evidence of cavitation in the brain stem or thalamus (only 10 of 18 [56%] showed cavitation).


MRI scanning at 90 days with T1-weighted imaging reveals evidence of cavitation in nearly all cases of acute lacunar infarction. By contrast, reliance on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery alone will miss many cavitated lesions in the thalamus and brain stem. These factors should be taken into account in the development of standardized criteria for lacunar infarction on MRI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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