New research presented recently at the RSNA annual meeting suggests that diabetics may be harboring advanced vascular disease that could increase their risk of stroke.

However, arterial imaging with 3D MRI could be useful in helping to determine their stroke risk, notes a media release from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

According to the study, presented recently during the RSNA annual meeting, researchers used 3D MRI to study the carotid arteries of diabetics for evidence of intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH), an indicator of advanced atherosclerotic disease, in 159 asymptomatic type 2 diabetic patients, average age 63, recruited from a dietary trial between 2010 and 2013.

“A recent analysis of multiple studies has shown that people with carotid artery narrowing and IPH have a five- to six-times higher risk of stroke in the near future compared to people without,” says study author Tishan Maraj, MBBS, imaging analyst at Sunnybrook Research Institute and M.Sc. candidate at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada, in the release

Among these patients, 37—or 23.3%—had IPH in at least one carotid artery. Five of the 37 patients had IPH in both carotid arteries. IPH was found in the absence of carotid artery stenosis, or narrowing, and was associated with an increased carotid artery wall volume as measured by 3D MRI, the release explains.

“It was surprising that so many diabetic patients had this feature,” Maraj adds. “We already knew that people with diabetes face three to five times the risk of stroke, so perhaps IPH is an early indicator of stroke risk that should be followed up.”

Maraj notes in the release that while 2D MRI has been used for more than a decade to identify and characterize carotid artery plaques, the 3D method brings an extra level of imaging power.

“The advantage of 3D MRI is you can image the entire carotid artery and pinpoint the area of interest over a shorter period of time compared with multiple 2D sequences,” he states in the release.

Maraj emphasizes in the release, however, that the study did not study patient outcomes, and did not draw any conclusions regarding whether people with IPH will develop carotid artery blockages more quickly than those with no IPH present. However, per the release, it is already known that blood is a destabilizing factor of plaque that promotes rupture, setting off a chain of events that can lead to a stroke.

[Source(s): Radiological Society of North America, EurekAlert]