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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2013 Sep;34(9):1717-22. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A3573. Epub 2013 May 2.

Morphologic characteristics of atherosclerotic middle cerebral arteries on 3T high-resolution MRI.

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Department of Neurology, Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.



There are limited studies on the morphologic characteristics of MCA atherosclerotic stenosis. Our aim was to quantitatively assess the remodeling pattern and plaque distribution of atherosclerotic MCAs with 3T high-resolution MR imaging.


Eighty-seven consecutive patients with symptomatic atherosclerotic stenoses at the M1 segment of the MCA on DSA (50%-99%) were enrolled. The remodeling index was calculated as the Vessel Area at Maximal Lumen Narrowing/Reference Vessel Area. A remodeling index ≥ 1.0 was defined as positive remodeling, and a remodeling index < 1.0, as negative remodeling. Plaque distribution at the maximal lumen narrowing site was classified on the basis of the involvement of the superior, inferior, dorsal, or ventral MCA wall.


Forty-three of 87 patients were excluded due to poor imaging quality (n = 8) or scan plane obliquity secondary to a tortuous M1 segment of the MCA or an MCA ostium lesion or angled lesion (n = 35). Of 44 patients in the final analysis, negative remodeling was found in 19 (43.2%) lesions, and positive remodeling, in 25 (56.8%) lesions. At maximal lumen narrowing sites, lesions with negative remodeling had less vessel area, wall area, and percentage of plaque burden (P < .0001) and a lower eccentricity index (P = .023), compared with lesions with positive remodeling. The plaque involved the superior and dorsal walls in 15 (34.1%) of 44 patients.


2D high-resolution MR imaging can help assess the remodeling pattern and plaque distribution of MCA stenosis, but the imaging and postprocessing protocol for remodeling assessment needs to be improved in the tortuous course of the MCA and in MCA ostium or angled lesions.

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