Objective: Atherosclerosis at the carotid bifurcation is likely the major cause of ischemic stroke. Besides degree of stenosis, plaque characteristics are suggested to play a potentially important role as risk factors for stroke. The main aim of this study was to evaluate, morphological features such as intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH ), fibrous cap of the plaque with MRI.
Methods: A total of 23 patients with large artery atherosclerotic ischemic stroke were enrolled in this study. All underwent MRI assessment of the carotid arteries for intraplaque hemorrhage and fibrous cap rüpture. We compared plaque morphology with degree of stenosis.
Results: Mean± SD age of the patients was 60.7± 6.9 and 8 of 23 were female. Of the 11 symptomatic carotid arteries included, 5 had IPH and 5 had fibrous cap rupture. Non of the asymptomatic arteries had these pathologies. The relationship between degree of stenosis, IPH and fibrous cap rupture were not statistically significant (p= 0.63 and 0.25).
Conclusion: Besides the degree of stenosis, plaque characteristics are suggested to play a potentially important role as risk factors for stroke. MRI is well suited for evaluating carotid plaques; it is widely available, noninvasive, provides excellent soft tissue contrast, multiplanar imaging capability. In our study, we didnt find a statistically significant relationship between degree of stenosis and plaque morphology but evaluation of patients with MRI provided additional information. More studies with larger patient groups are needed.
Atherosclerosis, intraplaque hemorrhage, fibrous cap rupture, plaque, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)