The association between lacunes and white matter hyperintensity features on MRI: The SMART-MR study

Ghaznawi, Rashid, Geerlings, Mirjam I, Jaarsma-Coes, Myriam G, Zwartbol, Maarten Ht, Kuijf, Hugo J, van der Graaf, Yolanda, Witkamp, Theo D, Hendrikse, Jeroen, de Bresser, Jeroen, SMART Study Group


Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism


Lacunes and white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are features of cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) that are associated with poor functional outcomes. However, how the two are related remains unclear. In this study, we examined the association between lacunes and several WMH features in patients with a history of vascular disease. A total of 999 patients (mean age 59 ± 10 years) with a 1.5 T brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan were included from the SMART-MR study. Lacunes were scored visually and WMH features (volume, subtype and shape) were automatically determined. Analyses consisted of linear and Poisson regression adjusted for age, sex, and total intracranial volume (ICV). Patients with lacunes (n = 188; 19%) had greater total (B = 1.03, 95% CI: 0.86 to 1.21), periventricular/confluent (B = 1.08, 95% CI: 0.89 to 1.27), and deep (B = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.44 to 0.97) natural log-transformed WMH volumes than patients without lacunes. Patients with lacunes had an increased risk of confluent type WMHs (RR = 2.41, 95% CI: 1.98 to 2.92) and deep WMHs (RR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.22 to 1.62) and had a more irregular shape of confluent WMHs than patients without lacunes, independent of total WMH volume. In conclusion, we found that lacunes on MRI were associated with WMH features that correspond to more severe small vessel changes, mortality, and poor functional outcomes.