[Modern magnetic resonance techniques in stroke]

J B Fiebach, P D Schellinger
Der Radiologe 2003, 43 (3): 251-63; quiz 263-4
In industrialized nations, stroke is the most common cause of permanent disability and need of care. Causal treatment is possible only during the first few hours following the stroke, in the form of systemic fibrinolysis. An exact diagnosis of the causative pathology must be made before starting the therapy, and this must happen in the shortest possible period of time. Using imaging techniques, the whole spectrum of differential diagnoses of cerebral ischemia must be covered, including above all intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage. Although computed tomography (CT) is excellently suited for determining hemorrhage, infarct can be recognized with much better contrast using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging (DWI). Stroke MR imaging additionally allows the representation of vital "tissue at risk"of infarction using perfusion images as well as the recognition of vessel occlusion using MR angiography. This paper is intended to define the usefulness of DWI in comparison to CT techniques and to elucidate the use of diffusion coefficients for differentiating the various stages of infarction. Besides presenting an explanation of the basic principles of modern stroke MR imaging, typical results of MR perfusion measurements and the appearance of hemorrhages on MR will be explained.

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