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Telgte, Annemieke ter; Wiegertjes, Kim; Gesierich, Benno; Marques, Jose P.; Huebner, M.; Klerk, J. J. de; Schreuder, F. H.; Araque Caballero, Miguel Angel; Kuijf, H. J.; Norris, David G.; Klijn, Catharina J. M.; Dichgans, Martin; Tuladhar, Anil Man; Duering, Marco and de Leeuw, Frank-Erik (1. October 2019): The contribution of acute infarcts to cerebral small vessel disease progression. In: Annals of Neurology, Vol. 86, No. 4: pp. 582-592 [PDF, 1MB]


Objective To determine the contribution of acute infarcts, evidenced by diffusion‐weighted imaging positive (DWI+) lesions, to progression of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) and other cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) markers.

Methods We performed monthly 3T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for 10 consecutive months in 54 elderly individuals with SVD. MRI included high‐resolution multishell DWI, and 3‐dimensional fluid‐attenuated inversion recovery, T1, and susceptibility‐weighted imaging. We determined DWI+ lesion evolution, WMH progression rate (ml/mo), and number of incident lacunes and microbleeds, and calculated for each marker the proportion of progression explained by DWI+ lesions.

Results We identified 39 DWI+ lesions on 21 of 472 DWI scans in 9 of 54 subjects. Of the 36 DWI+ lesions with follow‐up MRI, 2 evolved into WMH, 4 evolved into a lacune (3 with cavity <3mm), 3 evolved into a microbleed, and 27 were not detectable on follow‐up. WMH volume increased at a median rate of 0.027 ml/mo (interquartile range = 0.005–0.073), but was not significantly higher in subjects with DWI+ lesions compared to those without (p = 0.195). Of the 2 DWI+ lesions evolving into WMH on follow‐up, one explained 23% of the total WMH volume increase in one subject, whereas the WMH regressed in the other subject. DWI+ lesions preceded 4 of 5 incident lacunes and 3 of 10 incident microbleeds.

Interpretation DWI+ lesions explain only a small proportion of the total WMH progression. Hence, WMH progression seems to be mostly driven by factors other than acute infarcts. DWI+ lesions explain the majority of incident lacunes and small cavities, and almost one‐third of incident microbleeds, confirming that WMH, lacunes, and microbleeds, although heterogeneous on MRI, can have a common initial appearance on MRI. ANN NEUROL 2019;86:582–592

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