Standard Diffusion-weighted MRI for the Diagnosis of Central Retinal Artery Occlusion : A Case-Control Study.

Journal: Clinical Neuroradiology

Objective: To evaluate diffusion abnormalities of the retina and optic nerve in patients with central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) using standard stroke diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI).

Methods: In this case-control study, DWI scans of patients with nonarteritic CRAO were retrospectively assessed for acute ischemia of the retina and optic nerve. Two neuroradiologists, blinded for patient diagnosis, randomly evaluated DWI of CRAO patients and controls (a collective of stroke and transient ischemic attack [TIA] patients) for restrictions of the retina and optic nerve. We calculated statistical quality criteria and analyzed inter-rater reliability using unweighted Kappa statistics.

Results: 20 CRAO patients (60,6 ± 17 years) and 20 controls (60,7 ± 17 years) were included in the study. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values for retinal DWI restrictions were 75%/80%/79%/76% (reader 1) and 75%/100%/100%/80% (reader 2), respectively. Unweighted Kappa was κ = 0,70 (95% CI 0,48‑0,92), indicating "substantial" interrater reliability. In comparison, sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV (positive and negative predictive values) for restrictions of the optic nerve in CRAO were 55%/70%/65%/61% (reader 1) and 25%/100%/100%/57% (reader 2). Inter-rater reliability was "fair" with unweighted Kappa κ = 0,32 (95% CI 0,09‑0,56).

Conclusions: Retinal diffusion restrictions were present in a majority of CRAO patients and detectable with reasonable sensitivity, high specificity and substantial inter-rater reliability. Further studies are necessary to study time dependency of retinal diffusion restrictions, improve image quality and investigate the reliability of retinal DWI to discern CRAO from other causes of acute loss of vision.