Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery preparation: not an improvement over conventional diffusion-weighted imaging at 3T in acute ischemic stroke.
Simon JE., Czechowsky DK., Hill MD., Harris AD., Buchan AM., Frayne R.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Change in signal intensity due to acute ischemic stroke can be detected on diffusion-weighted (DW) images soon after symptom onset. Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) DW imaging suppresses signal intensity from water and has been suggested to be better than conventional DW imaging as a diagnostic imaging technique in acute stroke. We compared the signal intensity-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise-ratio (CNR) between ischemic and normal tissues by using these two sequences. METHODS: Twenty stroke patients underwent imaging less than 6 hours after stroke onset by using both acquisition methods. The SNR of six regions of interest in normal brain and one region in ischemic brain were compared on both DW imaging and FLAIR DW imaging. We also compared CNR in normal and ischemic tissues. The calculated apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps from each acquisition technique were similarly assessed. RESULTS: The SNR was significantly lower for FLAIR DW imaging than for DW imaging (P < .05). The CNR between normal and ischemic tissue was also lower on FLAIR DW imaging (P < .05). SNR and CNR of the ADC maps were significantly different (P < .05) for all tissues except the putamen and white matter (for SNR and CNR) and globus pallidus (for CNR only). CONCLUSION: Ischemic tissue on FLAIR DW imaging was significantly less conspicuous than on DW imaging and potentially limits the clinical utility of this sequence.