Introduction: Intravascular calcification is thought to be a marker of atherosclerosis in patients with stenosis and vascular risk factors. Little is known about the utility of quantifying intracranial calcification to help determine mechanism of stenosis. The objective of our study was to compare presence and patterns of intracranial calcification in patients with intracranial stenosis due to atherosclerosis and other etiologies.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study of 89 patients < 50 years with diagnosis of intracranial stenosis who had undergone CT angiogram from 2008-2013; 44 had presumed atherosclerosis as etiology (>3 vascular risk factors with no other identified cause). CTAs were reviewed for presence and location of intracranial calcification.
Results: Of patients with atherosclerotic stenosis, 28 (64%) had intravascular calcification compared to 16 (36%) of those with stenosis of other etiologies (P=0.0039). There was no significant difference in pattern or location of stenosis between groups. One-third had calcification outside the region of stenosis in both groups. Distal internal carotid artery and distal vertebral artery were the most common sites of intracranial calcification (Table).
Conclusion: Intracranial calcification is more commonly seen in patients <50 years old with stenosis secondary to atherosclerosis, but the pattern and location was similar between groups. More research is needed to determine the utility of using the presence of vascular calcification to help determine mechanism of intracranial stenosis in the young.