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Spectrum of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery territory infarcts. Clinical-diffusion-weighted imaging correlates

Emre Kumral, Ayşin Kisabay, Ceyla Ataç, Cem Calli, Nilgun Yunten
Cerebrovascular Diseases 2005, 20 (5): 370-80
16205055

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The clinical, etiological and stroke mechanisms are defined well before but the detailed clinical and etiologic mechanisms regarding to all clinical spectrum of posterior inferior cerebellar artery (PICA) infarcts were not systematically studied by diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI).

METHODS: Seventy-four patients with PICA territory ischemic lesion proved by DWI with decreased apparent diffusion coefficient and FLAIR (fluid attenuation inversion recovery) included in our Registry, corresponding to 2% of 3,650 patients with ischemic stroke, were studied. The presence of steno-occlusive lesions in the posterior circulation were sought by magnetic resonance angiography, and reviewed with a three-dimensional rotating cineangiographic method.

RESULTS: We found six subgroups of PICA territory infarcts according clinico-topographical relationship: (1) 9 patients with lesion in the territory lateral branch of PICA; (2) 23 patients with an infarct in the territory of medial branch of PICA; (3) 9 patients with a lesion involving both medial and lateral branches of the PICA; (4) 9 patients with cortical infarcts at the boundary zones either between medial and lateral branches of the PICA or between PICA and m/l superior cerebellar artery (SCA); (5) 10 patients with a lesion at the deep boundary zones either between medial and lateral PICA, or between PICA and medial/lateral SCA; (6)14 patients with concomitant multiple lesions in the PICA and in other vertebrobasilar artery territories. The main cause of PICA infarcts was extracranial large-artery disease in 30 patients (41%) patients, cardioembolism and in situ branch disease in 15 patients (20%) each.

CONCLUSIONS: Multiple PICA territory lesions on DWI were not uncommon and could be caused by multiple emboli originating from break-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the subclavian/innominate-vertebral arterial system. DWI findings of single or multiple small lesions could account for some cases with transient and subtle cerebellar symptoms which have been considered before as 'vertebrobasilar insufficiency' without morphologic lesion. Different clinical-DWI correlations allow us to determine better definition of the topographical and etiological spectrum of acute PICA territory lesions, which was previously defined by pathological and conventional MRI studies.

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