Sensitivity of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging in the diagnosis of acute lancunar infarcts

P. H. Lai*, J. Y. Li, C. Y. Chang, M. T. Wu, Y. K. Lo, P. C. Chung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background and purpose: Heightened interest in the early diagnosis and treatment of acute stroke challenges neuroimaging specialists to optimize available modalities and to develop new techniques for the evaluation of cerebrovascular disease. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of diffusion-weighted (DW) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in detecting early small infarcts and in differentiating acute from nonacute small infarcts when conventional MR imaging demonstrates multiple small infarcts. Methods: Thirty-eight consecutive patients with a clinical diagnosis of lacunar infarcts (20 men and 18 women, aged 50-79 yr) who underwent DW MR imaging within 3 days of symptom onset were enrolled in this study. All patients underwent both conventional fast spin-echo (FSE) MR imaging and DW MR imaging. Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps were also acquired. All patients had at least one of the following classic lacunar syndromes: pure motor hemiparesis, ataxic hemiparesis, dysarthria-clumsy hand, pure sensory stroke, and sensorimotor stroke. Results: Thirty-six patients (40 acute lesions) had focal areas of high intensity on DW MR imaging associated with their clinical symptoms. Acute lacunar infarcts were seen on DW MR imaging as bright areas of decreased ADC ratio (range 0.31-0.85, mean 0.64). Lesion conspicuity with DW MR imaging was superior to that with FSE in 33 acute lesions. In four patients with small hyperacute (within 6 hours) infarcts, DW MR imaging was particularly sensitive for infarcts that were not visible on FSE sequences. The sensitivity of DW MR imaging and ADC map for acute lacunar infarcts was 95%, specificity 94%, positive predictive value 97%, negative predictive value 90%, and accuracy 95%. In 15 patients with both acute and nonacute old small infarcts, DW MR imaging and ADC map could easily distinguish the new infarct from adjacent old ones, although this distinction was difficult to make with FSE. Conclusions: DW MR imaging accompanied by ADC map is a sensitive diagnostic modality for hyperacute and acute lacunar infarcts. It is also sensitive in distinguishing fresh small infarcts from adjacent multiple old infarcts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-376
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2001


  • Diffusion-weighted imaging
  • Lacunar infarction
  • Magnetic resonance imaging


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