Neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE) is speculated to be caused by disturbed microcirculation of the central nervous system. However, characteristic imaging findings of NPSLE have not been established. Hence, we investigated whether high-resolution images obtained using ultrahigh field MRI at 7 T can detect microcerebrovascular lesions in patients with NPSLE that have never been detected by conventional MRI. We prospectively examined 20 patients with SLE, including five with NPSLE, using a 7 T MRI scanner. High-resolution twodimensional T2-weighted images and high-resolution threedimensional T1-weighted images (T1WIs) before and after the administration of contrast agents were obtained. On the high-resolution T1WIs obtained at 7 T, minute punctate/ linear hyperintense lesions in subcortical and/or cortical areas were found in four (80%) NPSLE patients and one (7%) non-NPSLE patient. Further, the minute punctate enhanced lesions in these areas were found on contrastenhanced T1WIs in only three (60%) NPSLE patients. These findings suggesting microvascular thrombi or inflammation were significantly more frequent in NPSLE than in non- NPSLE patients (P=0.001). In contrast, other imaging findings, laboratory findings, and clinical characteristics were not different between the two groups. High-resolution T1WIs obtained at 7 T can detect minute lesions, indicating intracerebral microvascular lesions in patients with NPSLE.
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