Intracranial vascular abnormalities in patients with Alagille syndrome

Karan M. Emerick*, Ian D. Krantz, Binita M. Kamath, Crystal Darling, Delilah M. Burrowes, Nancy B. Spinner, Peter F. Whitington, David A. Piccoli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Objectives: To define the spectrum of intracranial events and cerebrovascular lesions in patients with Alagille syndrome using magnetic resonance imaging with angiography of the head and medical histories and to correlate the presence of lesions with the clinical outcome of bleeding or ischemic intracranial events. Methods: 26 patients with Alagille syndrome underwent magnetic resonance imaging with angiography of the head; 22 had no symptoms and underwent study for screening purposes and 4 were symptomatic with neurologic changes. The results of studies and the history of ischemic intracranial events were reviewed. Results: Cerebrovascular abnormalities were detected in 10 of 26 (38%) patients (9 by head magnetic resonance imaging with angiography and 1 by necropsy). The findings included stenoses of the internal carotid arteries unilaterally (n = 5) or bilaterally (n = 3), basilar artery aneurysm (n = 1) and middle cerebral artery aneurysm (n = 1). Among the 9 patients with cerebrovascular abnormalities detected by magnetic resonance imaging with angiography, 5 had no symptoms (23%, 5 of 22) and 4 were symptomatic. Thus, 100% of symptomatic patients had detected abnormalities and 23% of screened, asymptomatic patients had detected anomalies. Screening magnetic resonance imaging with angiography failed to detect vascular anomalies in 2 asymptomatic patients who had fatal ischemic intracranial events years later. There was evidence of progression of vascular abnormalities in 4 patients. Ischemic intracranial events occurred in 10 of 26 (38%) patients and were associated with cerebrovascular abnormalities in 6 of 10 patients. Conclusion: The cerebral vasculopathy of Alagille syndrome predominantly involves the internal carotid arteries. It is more prevalent than would be suggested by the number of symptomatic individuals, appears to be progressive and shares many similarities with moyamoya. Magnetic resonance imaging with angiography is useful to detect these lesions and may have a valuable role in screening for treatable lesions such as aneurysms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Intracranial bleed
  • Moyamoya

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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