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Ability to use duplex US to quantify internal carotid arterial stenoses: fact or fiction?

Radiology 2000 January
PURPOSE: To determine if duplex ultrasonography (US) can help predict the degree of internal carotid arterial (ICA) stenosis.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: ICA peak systolic velocity (PSV) and the ratio of the PSV in the ICA to that in the ipsilateral common carotid artery (VICA/VCCA) were compared with the degree of arteriographically measured stenosis. ICAs were arteriographically subgrouped at 10% incremental levels of stenosis and broader ranges. Mean PSV, VICA/VCCA, and SDs were calculated for each category. Histograms showing the numbers of stenotic ICAs in subgroups and for vessels with stenoses of greater than or equal to or less than 70% narrowing were constructed. The number of vessels correctly subgrouped with typical Doppler US thresholds was calculated.

RESULTS: Mean PSV and VICA/VCCA increased with stenosis level (P < .01); SDs were wide. Histograms showed Doppler US values in the central groups across all disease levels. Histograms differentiating at least or less than 70% stenosis showed minimal overlap. PSV and VICA/VCCA helped classify, respectively, 185 and 181 of 204 vessels with stenoses of less than 50%, 15 and 21 of 46 vessels with stenoses of 50%-69%, and 73 and 67 of 84 vessels with stenoses of 70% or greater. When classifying stenoses as 69% or less or 70% or more, PSV and VICA/VCCA were correct in 90.6% and 90.3% of vessels.

CONCLUSION: Doppler US is excellent for classifying stenoses as above or below a single degree of severity but does not function well in stenosis subclassification.

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