Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery hyperintense vessels (FHVs) are known to reflect stagnant or slow blood flow within the cerebral artery. FHVs are frequently observed in patients with acute cerebral infarction accompanied by arterial occlusion or significant stenosis of the anterior cerebral circulation. However, FHVs have not been studied in the context of posterior cerebral circulation. Thus, we investigated the prevalence of FHVs and its clinical significance in patients with acute posterior cerebral artery (PCA) territory infarction.
In this retrospective study, consecutive patients with PCA territory infarction who underwent MRI within 1 week after symptom onset were enrolled. Two neurologists who were blinded to the angiographic findings read the images and determined the presence of FHVs. Afterwards, FHVs were graded according to the extent (subtle or prominent) and location (proximal or distal) of the hyperintense vessels. Neurologic deficits of the patients were assessed by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) upon admission and after 5 days. The clinical outcome between patient groups based on FHVs grading was compared using the NIHSS. Among the patients with PCA occlusion, infarction volume on the diffusion-weighted image was compared between the two groups with and without distal FHVs.
FHVs were observed in 25 of the 87 patients (28.7%) with PCA territory infarction and in 65.7% of the 35 patients with significant arterial stenosis (10 patients) or occlusion (25 patients) in the posterior cerebral circulation. Among the 18 patients with PCA occlusion, the NIHSS score was significantly improved in patients with distal FHVs compared to the others (2.00 ± 2.18 vs. 0.56 ± 1.01, p = 0.04). The infarction volume was smaller in the distal FHV group than in the others (8.3 ± 8.7 vs. 16.8 ± 17.6 ml), but the difference was not statistically significant.
FHVs are detected in patients with PCA territory infarction, especially in those with an occlusive lesion in the PCA. FHVs can be used as an imaging marker of PCA occlusion. Although this study showed a better clinical improvement in patients with distal FHVs, further study is needed to elucidate the clinical meaning of FHVs in PCA infarction.