JOURNAL ARTICLE

Hippocampal size and dementia in stroke patients: the Sydney stroke study

P S Sachdev, X Chen, A Joscelyne, W Wen, A Altendorf, H Brodaty
Journal of the Neurological Sciences 2007 September 15, 260 (1): 71-7
17482210

BACKGROUND: Hippocampal atrophy is an early feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) but it has also been reported in vascular dementia (VaD). It is uncertain whether hippocampal size can help differentiate the two disorders.

METHODS: We assessed 90 stroke/TIA patients 3-6 months after the event, and 75 control subjects, with neuropsychological tests, medical and psychiatric examination and brain MRI scans. A diagnosis of VaD, vascular mild cognitive impairment (VaMCI) or no cognitive impairment (NCI) was reached by consensus on agreed criteria. T1-weighted MRI was used to obtain total intracranial volume (TICV), gray and white matter volume, CSF volume, hippocampus and amygdala volumes, and T2-weighted scans for white matter hyperintensity (WMH) ratings.

RESULTS: Stroke/TIA patients had more white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), larger ventricle-to-brain ratios and smaller amygdalae than controls, but hippocampus size and gray and white matter volumes were not different. WMHs and amygdala but not hippocampal volume distinguished stroke/TIA patients with VaD and VaMCI and without NCI and amygdala volumes. Right hippocampus volume significantly correlated with new visual learning.

CONCLUSIONS: Stroke/TIA patients and patients with post-stroke VaMCI or mild VaD do not have hippocampal atrophy. The amygdala is smaller in stroke/TIA patients, especially in those with cognitive impairment, and this may be accounted for by white matter lesions. The hippocampus volume relates to episodic memory, especially right hippocampus and new visual learning. A longitudinal study of these subjects will determine whether hippocampal atrophy is a late development in VaD.

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