Is there an underestimation of intima-media thickness based on M-mode ultrasound technique in the abdominal aorta?

Elsa M Dahlén, Thomas Andreasson, Magnus Cinthio, Fredrik H Nystrom, Carl Johan Östgren, Toste Länne
Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging 2012, 32 (1): 1-4
Measuring intima-media thickness (IMT) in the common carotid artery (CCA) is a valuable resource for the evaluation of subclinical atherosclerosis. The main objective of this study was to explore whether a B-mode ultrasound technique, Philips ATL, and an M-mode ultrasound technique, Wall Track System (WTS), show interchangeable results when measured in CCA and the abdominal aorta (AA). A total of 24 healthy, young subjects were examined. IMT and lumen diameter (LD) of the AA and the CCA were measured twice by two skilled ultrasonographers with two different ultrasound equipment B-mode: (Philips, ATL and M-mode: WTS).The intra-observer variability of IMT in CCA and AA using B-mode showed a coefficient of variation 8% and 9%, and with M-mode 11% and 15%, respectively. Interobserver variability of IMT in CCA and AA using B-mode was 6% and 12%, and with M-mode 11% and 18%, respectively. CCA IMT was 0·53 ± 0·07 and 0·53 ± 0·09 mm using B-mode and M-mode, respectively. However, in AA, IMT was 0·61 ± 0·05 and 0·54 ± 0·10 mm using B-mode and M-mode, respectively. Thus, AA IMT was 11·5% thicker using B-mode (P < 0·01). We received adequate IMT readings from the carotid artery as well as the AA using two commonly used B-mode and M-mode techniques. B-mode technique seems to show less variability, especially in the AA. More importantly, the two techniques measured different IMT thickness in the aorta, emphasizing the importance of using similar technique when comparing the impact of absolute values of IMT on cardiovascular disease.

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