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Philipp Dammann, Markus Barth, Yuan Zhu, Stefan Maderwald, Marc Schlamann, Mark E. Ladd, and Ulrich Sure

High-resolution susceptibility weighted MR imaging at high field strength provides excellent depiction of venous structures, blood products, and iron deposits, making it a promising complementary imaging modality for cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs). Although already introduced in 1997 and being constantly improved, susceptibility weighted imaging is not yet routine in clinical neuroimaging protocols for CCMs. In this article, the authors review the recent literature dealing with clinical and scientific susceptibility weighted imaging of CCMs to summarize its prospects and drawbacks and provide their first experience with its use in ultra–high field (7-T) MR imaging.

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Philipp Dammann, Karsten Wrede, Yuan Zhu, Toshinori Matsushige, Stefan Maderwald, Lale Umutlu, Harald H. Quick, Ute Hehr, Matthias Rath, Mark E. Ladd, Ute Felbor, and Ulrich Sure

OBJECTIVE

Multiple cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are rare lesions that occur in sporadic or familial form. Depending on the disease form, the natural history and treatment of the lesions strongly vary. Molecular analysis of an underlying germline mutation (CCM1–3) is the most sensitive screening method to distinguish between sporadic and familial cases. However, based on the different pathomechanisms that are believed to be involved in either form, significant distinctions in the CCM-associated cerebral venous angioarchitecture should be detectable. This has not been systematically studied.

METHODS

A consecutive series of 28 patients with multiple CCMs (681 total) diagnosed on 1.5-T MRI underwent genetic screening for CCM1–3 mutations and high-resolution susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) of the cerebral venous angioarchitecture with 7-T MRI. Imaging data were analyzed to examine the CCM-associated venous angioarchitecture. Results were correlated with findings of molecular analysis for CCM1–3 mutations.

RESULTS

Two different SWI patterns (sporadic and familial) were found. The presence of associated developmental venous anomalies correlated with negative screening for germline mutations (11 sporadic) in all cases. All patients with confirmed familial disease showed normal underlying venous angioarchitecture. Additionally, a very unusual case of a probable somatic mutation is presented.

CONCLUSIONS

The SWI results of the venous angioarchitecture of multiple CCMs correlate with sporadic or familial disease. These results are consistent with the theory that venous anomalies are causative for the sporadic form of multiple CCMs.