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Diffusion- and perfusion-weighted MR imaging in persistent migrainous visual disturbances


Professor Peter J Goadsby, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK. Tel. +44 207 829 8749, fax +44 207 813 0349, e-mail


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Pathological changes on diffusion-weighted MR scans had been described in hemiplegic migraine and perfusion changes had been demonstrated in typical migraine aura with radio-isotope studies and, more recently, MR perfusion imaging. However, there is relatively little knowledge of the pathophysiology of long-lasting migraine aura and its possibly variant phenotype, visual snow. Our aim was to investigate with advanced MR techniques whether patients with long-lasting visual disturbance showed regional alterations in cerebral water diffusion and perfusion. We have studied four patients using MR perfusion and MR diffusion imaging. Two patients had typical visual aura and two had a primary persistent visual disturbance (visual snow phenomenon). All patients had normal conventional structural MR imaging. MR diffusion-weighted images were acquired with a b-value of up to 1000 s/mm2. From the diffusion weighted images we generated maps of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), which were inspected visually and used for ADC measurements of predefined regions of interest, which included the visual, frontal, insular and temporal cortices. MR perfusion imaging was performed using a bolus tracking technique with dynamic susceptibility-weighted images. Colour coded maps of relative cerebral blood volume, mean transit time and bolus arrival time were generated, as well as time-signal intensity curves over the anterior, middle and posterior cerebral artery territories. The maps of the ADC and above perfusion parameters appeared symmetrical in all patients with no evidence of decreased water diffusion or cerebral perfusion in the occipital regions, or elsewhere. There was no statistically significant difference between the ADC measurements of the primary visual cortices and other cortical regions. Our findings suggest that regional changes in cerebral water diffusion and perfusion do not play an important part in the pathophysiology of persistent migraine aura or primary persistent visual disturbance.