Cerebrovascular diseases are a leading cause of disability and death worldwide. The definition of stroke etiology is mandatory to predict outcome and guide therapeutic decisions. The diagnosis of pathological processes involving intracranial arteries is especially challenging, and the visualization of intracranial arteries’ vessel walls is not possible with routine imaging techniques. Vessel wall magnetic resonance imaging (VW-MRI) uses high-resolution, multiparametric MRI sequences to directly visualize intracranial arteries walls and their pathological alterations, allowing a better characterization of their pathology. VW-MRI demonstrated a wide range of clinical applications in acute cerebrovascular disease. Above all, it can be of great utility in the differential diagnosis of atherosclerotic and non-atherosclerotic intracranial vasculopathies. Additionally, it can be useful in the risk stratification of intracranial atherosclerotic lesions and to assess the risk of rupture of intracranial aneurysms. Recent advances in MRI technology made it more available, but larger studies are still needed to maximize its use in daily clinical practice.
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