, Volume 59, Issue 12, pp 1193–1202 | Cite as

High-resolution vessel wall MRI for the evaluation of intracranial atherosclerotic disease

  • Adam de HavenonEmail author
  • Mahmud Mossa-Basha
  • Lubdha Shah
  • Seong-Eun Kim
  • Min Park
  • Dennis Parker
  • J. Scott McNally


High-resolution vessel wall MRI (vwMRI) of the intracranial arteries is an emerging diagnostic imaging technique with the goal of evaluating vascular pathology. vwMRI sequences have high spatial resolution and directly image the vessel wall by suppressing blood signal. With vwMRI, it is possible to identify distinct morphologic and enhancement patterns of atherosclerosis that can provide important information about stroke etiology and recurrence risk. We present a review of vwMRI research in relation to intracranial atherosclerosis, with a focus on the relationship between ischemic stroke and atherosclerotic plaque T1 post-contrast enhancement or plaque/vessel wall morphology. The goal of this review is to provide readers with the most current understanding of the reliability, incidence, and importance of specific vwMRI findings in intracranial atherosclerosis, to guide their interpretation of vwMRI research, and help inform clinical interpretation of vwMRI. We will also provide a translational perspective on the existing vwMRI literature and insight into future vwMRI research questions and objectives. With increased use of high field strength MRI, powerful gradients, and improved pulse sequences, vwMRI will become standard-of-care in the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with cerebrovascular disease, making a firm grasp of its strengths and weakness important for neuroimagers.


High-resolution MRI Vessel wall MRI Intracranial atherosclerosis Ischemic stroke 



Cerebrospinal fluid


Computed tomography angiography


Delay alternating with nutation for tailored excitation


Diffusion-weighted imaging


Internal carotid artery


Intraplaque hemorrhage


Vessel wall MRI


Middle cerebral artery


Magnetization-prepared rapid gradient-echo


Magnetic resonance angiography


Motion sensitized driven equilibrium


Proton density


Transient ischemic attack




Variable refocusing flip angle


Compliance with ethical standards


The study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number KL2TR001065 (AdH).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Informed consent

Statement of informed consent was not applicable since the manuscript does not contain any patient data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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