Understanding the Clinical Implications of Intracranial Arterial Calcification Using Brain CT and Vessel Wall Imaging

Wen Jie Yang, Bruce A. Wasserman, Lu Zheng, Zhong Qing Huang, Jia Li, Jill Abrigo, Simon Sin man Wong, Michael Tin cheung Ying, Winnie Chiu Wing Chu, Lawrence Ka sing Wong, Thomas Wai Hong Leung, Xiang Yan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and Purpose: Intracranial arterial calcification (IAC) has been the focus of much attention by clinicians and researchers as an indicator of intracranial atherosclerosis, but correlations of IAC patterns (intimal or medial) with the presence of atherosclerotic plaques and plaque stability are still a matter of debate. Our study aimed to assess the associations of IAC patterns identified on computed tomography (CT) with the presence of plaque detected on vessel wall magnetic resonance imaging and plaque stability. Materials and Methods: Patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack and intracranial artery stenosis were recruited. IAC was detected and localized (intima or media) on non-contrast CT images. Intracranial atherosclerotic plaques were identified using vessel wall magnetic resonance imaging and matched to corresponding CT images. Associations between IAC patterns and culprit atherosclerotic plaques were assessed by using multivariate regression. Results: Seventy-five patients (mean age, 63.4 ± 11.6 years; males, 46) were included. Two hundred and twenty-one segments with IAC were identified on CT in 66 patients, including 86 (38.9%) predominantly intimal calcifications and 135 (61.1%) predominantly medial calcifications. A total of 72.0% of intimal calcifications coexisted with atherosclerotic plaques, whereas only 10.2% of medial calcifications coexisted with plaques. Intimal calcification was more commonly shown in non-culprit plaques than culprit plaques (25.9 vs. 9.4%, P = 0.008). The multivariate mixed logistic regression adjusted for the degree of stenosis showed that intimal calcification was significantly associated with non-culprit plaques (OR, 2.971; 95% CI, 1.036–8.517; P = 0.043). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that intimal calcification may indicate the existence of a stable form of atherosclerotic plaque, but plaques can exist in the absence of intimal calcification especially in the middle cerebral artery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number619233
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • atherosclerosis
  • calcification
  • computed tomography
  • intracranial disease
  • magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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