Even using diffusion-weighted images (DWI) detection of acute brainstem infarction (BI) is still a challenge. To evaluate the clinical efficacy of a DWI protocol with improved spatial resolution all images of 44 patients with clinically possible BI on admission (24 patients with definite BI and 20 patients with other etiologies) and first DWI within 24 h after symptom onset were blindly reanalyzed for visibility and detection of BI on the first DWI by reviewers with different expertise levels. Neuroradiologists identified definite BI in 21 out of 24 patients (sensitivity 90%, specificity 100%); neurologists and junior house officers achieved similar results (sensitivity 86 and 83%, specificity 98 and 97%). The use of DWI allows a definite diagnosis of BI, even if raters have limited experience.

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