Spectrum of transient focal neurological episodes in cerebral amyloid angiopathy: multicentre magnetic resonance imaging cohort study and meta-analysis

Andreas Charidimou, Andre Peeters, Zoe Fox, Simone M Gregoire, Yves Vandermeeren, Patrice Laloux, Hans R Jäger, Jean-Claude Baron, David J Werring
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2012, 43 (9): 2324-30

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Transient focal neurological episodes (TFNE) are recognized in cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) and may herald a high risk of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). We aimed to determine their prevalence, clinical neuroimaging spectrum, and future ICH risk.

METHODS: This was a multicenter retrospective cohort study of 172 CAA patients. Clinical, imaging, and follow-up data were collected. We classified TFNE into: predominantly positive symptoms ("aura-like" spreading paraesthesias/positive visual phenomena or limb jerking) and predominantly negative symptoms ("transient ischemic attack-like" sudden-onset limb weakness, dysphasia, or visual loss). We pooled our results with all published cases identified in a systematic review.

RESULTS: In our multicenter cohort, 25 patients (14.5%; 95% confidence interval, 9.6%-20.7%) had TFNE. Positive and negative symptoms were equally common (52% vs 48%, respectively). The commonest neuroimaging features were leukoaraiosis (84%), lobar ICH (76%), multiple lobar cerebral microbleeds (58%), and superficial cortical siderosis/convexity subarachnoid hemorrhage (54%). The CAA patients with TFNE more often had superficial cortical siderosis/convexity subarachnoid hemorrhage (but not other magnetic resonance imaging features) compared with those without TFNE (50% vs 19%; P=0.001). Over a median period of 14 months, 50% of TFNE patients had symptomatic lobar ICH. The meta-analysis showed a risk of symptomatic ICH after TFNE of 24.5% (95% confidence interval, 15.8%-36.9%) at 8 weeks, related neither to clinical features nor to previous symptomatic ICH.

CONCLUSIONS: TFNE are common in CAA, include both positive and negative neurological symptoms, and may be caused by superficial cortical siderosis/convexity subarachnoid hemorrhage. TFNE predict a high early risk of symptomatic ICH (which may be amenable to prevention). Blood-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging sequences are important in the investigation of such episodes.

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