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Evaluating The Use Of Gradient Echo Imaging For The Detection Of Cerebral Microbleeds In Acute Stroke Cases: A Retrospective Data Analysis In A UK Stroke Unit.

G. Walsh, T. Meagher, C. Malamateniou
Published 2020 · Medicine

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INTRODUCTION Imaging in stroke, allows its classification into ischaemic stroke (IS) or intracranial haemorrhagic stroke (ICH), ensuring time-sensitive treatment to be administered. Imaging can also allow detection of cerebral microbleeds (CMBs), which may further determine pharmacological intervention in acute stroke. True gradient echo (T2∗GRE) or susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) have high sensitivity for the detection of CMBs. These two sequences are included in the national guidelines; however, the implementation of these guidelines can vary depending on local interpretation and scanner capabilities. AIM To explore the use and application of blood sensitive MRI sequences in a specialist UK stroke unit for the detection of CMBs, to improve local practice. METHODS A retrospective data analysis of the native database, spanning a 6-month period, was used. The data of 281 acute stroke patients with an MRI were reviewed and analysed. The MRI sequences applied, and the final diagnosis were noted for each case. RESULTS Of the 281 acute stroke patients with MRI, 259 (92.1%) had an IS, 16 (5.68%) an ICH and 6 (2.14%) had both. Overall, 13 (4.63%) had a CMB diagnosis. All of these 13 patients had a true T2∗GRE sequence. CMBs were not detected in the absence of a T2∗GRE sequence. CONCLUSION T2∗GRE imaging is essential for detecting CMBs. When omitted, CMB incidence can be considerably lower than that suggested in the literature. Missing CMB diagnoses in stroke patients may result in suboptimal treatment pathways, compromising the patients' standard of care. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE When SWI is not available, it is imperative to always include a true T2∗GRE sequence to detect microbleeds in suspected acute stroke cases.
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