Background: Fractional flow across an atherosclerotic lesion measured with TOF-MRA signal intensity ratio (SIR) may be used to gauge hemodynamic severity and to predict subsequent stroke. The degree of flow impairment may also be ascertained by quantitative MRA (QMRA). We analyzed performance of these noninvasive imaging parameters to estimate risk of subsequent posterior circulation events in VERiTAS.
Methods: TOF-MRA data and QMRA were simultaneously acquired in VERiTAS. SIR were derived from TOF source images and normalized for analysis with volume flow ratios (VFR) on QMRA at standard anatomical landmarks and across the maximal stenosis. Statistics analyzed the correlation between SIR and VFR, and the ability of each to predict clinical events.
Results: 72 subjects (mean age 65.6±10.3 years, 32 (44%) women) with posterior circulation atherosclerosis were enrolled in VERiTAS. Posterior communicating artery (PCOMM) flow to the posterior circulation was detected in 85% on the right, in 86% on the left, with bilateral PCOMM flow in 78%. Fractional flow measures or SIR across the maximal stenotic lesion evident on TOF MRA was reduced in 43%, increased in 16%, with no change in 40%. SIR from the proximal to distal basilar artery segments increased in 62%, was unchanged in 33% and decreased in 4% of cases. SI and VFR exhibited limited correlation at corresponding arterial segments. QMRA VFR indicative of low distal flow status predicted subsequent clinical events, unlike SIR.
Conclusions: Evaluation of hemodynamics in posterior circulation atherosclerosis reveals superiority of QMRA to SIR in prospectively predicting recurrent ischemia. Collateral circulation, tandem disease and unique aspects of vertebrobasilar atherosclerosis likely influence the utility of SIR on TOF MRA.