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Neuroimaging of hemorrhage and vascular defects.

Intracranial hemorrhage is the third most common cause of stroke and involves the accumulation of blood within brain parenchyma or the surrounding meningeal spaces. Accurate identification of acute hemorrhage and correct characterization of the underlying pathology, such as tumor, vascular malformation, or infarction, is a critical step in planning appropriate therapy. Neuroimaging studies are required not only for diagnosis, but they also provide important information on the type of hemorrhage, etiology, and the pathophysiological process. Historically, computed tomography (CT) scan has been the diagnostic imaging study of choice; however, there is growing evidence suggesting that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is at least as sensitive as CT to detect intraparenchymal hemorrhages in the hyperacute setting, and actually superior to CT in the subacute and chronic settings. Unique MRI and CT characteristics differentiate secondary causes of hemorrhage from the more common hypertensive hemorrhage. Baseline and serial studies can be used to identify patients who might benefit from acute interventions. In addition, new imaging modalities, (such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, diffusion tensor imaging, and 320-row CT) are promising research techniques that have the potential to enhance our understanding of the tissue injury and recovery after intracranial hemorrhages.

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