Incidence of Postangiographic Abnormalities Revealed by Diffusion- Weighted MR Imaging



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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Occasionally we have observed anecdotal cases of asymptomatic hyperintensities on diffusion-weighted MR (DW-MR) examinations of the brain of patients who previously underwent routine cerebral angiography. These observations, as well as MR imaging and transcranial Doppler data in the literature suggesting a high rate of procedure-associated emboli, raise concern regarding the underdiagnosis of asymptomatic focal infarction associated with cerebral angiography. In order to determine whether asymptomatic diffusion abnormalities are frequently associated with procedures, we prospectively obtained DW-MR images before and after routine cerebral angiography. METHODS: Twenty consecutive patients, who met protocol criteria and received a routine three- or four-vessel diagnostic cerebral angiogram at our institution, were evaluated. Using a Bayesian estimate to establish an upper bound for the incidence of an event with zero occurrences in a study sample, the study group size was selected to exclude a 10% incidence of abnormalities revealed by DW-MR imaging of patients who underwent previous cerebral angiography. Two neuroradiologists evaluated imaging studies. RESULTS: Neither clinical signs nor abnormalities on DW-MR images were found, which suggested no infarction after angiography in our patient sample. Based on this data, an upper bound of 9% (95% confidence) is predicted for the appearance of abnormalities revealed by DW-MR imaging after cerebral angiography. CONCLUSION: Cerebral angiography is associated with an incidence of asymptomatic cerebral infarction of no more than 9%. It well may be substantially lower than this estimate; a more accurate evaluation of the true incidence would require a significantly larger study population. This test provides a convenient noninvasive means of assessing procedure-related cerebral infarction, such as that which occurs after carotid endarterectomy or vascular angioplasty and stenting.

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American Journal of Neuroradiology







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