Background and Purpose-Nonlacunar cerebral infarcts are presumed to be caused by thromboembolism from the heart or extracranial arteries, whereas lacunar infarcts are thought to be caused by small vessel disease. We investigated to what extent arterial calcifications differ between nonlacunar and lacunar ischemic strokes. Methods-We studied 820 consecutive patients with transient ischemic attack or ischemic stroke in the anterior circulation who underwent multidetector computed tomography angiography and had no rare cause of stroke. The presence of likely cardioembolic pathogenesis was determined according to the Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment criteria. The remaining 708 patients were categorized as nonlacunar or lacunar strokes, either transient ischemic attacks or strokes, based on clinical symptoms corrected by brain imaging results. We measured volume of calcifications in the aortic arch, symptomatic extracranial and intracranial carotid artery using multidetector computed tomography angiography. The difference in calcifications between nonlacunar and lacunar strokes was assessed with a multivariable logistic regression analysis. We adjusted for degree of symptomatic carotid artery stenosis and cardiovascular risk factors. Results-We found an independent association between volume of aortic arch calcifications and nonlacunar ischemic strokes (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.11 [1.02-1.21]). No independent associations between extracranial and intracranial carotid artery calcifications and nonlacunar strokes were present. Conclusions- The only difference we found between nonlacunar and lacunar strokes was a higher calcification volume in the aortic arch in nonlacunar strokes. Our findings only partially confirm the notion of distinct etiologies and suggest that the potential role of other plaque components, plaque morphology, and aortic arch calcifications in ischemic stroke subtypes awaits further evaluation.

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Department of Neurology