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Transcranial Doppler cerebrovascular reactivity: Thresholds for clinical significance in cerebrovascular disease.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Thresholds for abnormal transcranial Doppler cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) studies are poorly understood, especially for patients with cerebrovascular disease. Using a real-world cohort with cerebral arterial stenosis, we sought to describe a clinically significant threshold for carbon dioxide reactivity (CO2R) and vasomotor range (VMR).

METHODS: CVR studies were performed during conditions of breathing room air normally, breathing 8% carbon dioxide air mixture, and hyperventilation. The mean and standard deviation (SD) of CO2R and VMR were calculated for the unaffected side in patients with unilateral stenosis; a deviation of 2 SDs below the mean was chosen as the threshold for abnormal. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for both sides for patients with unilateral and bilateral stenosis were evaluated for sensitivity (Sn) and specificity (Sp).

RESULTS: A total of 133 consecutive CVR studies were performed on 62 patients with stenosis with mean±SD age 55±16 years. Comorbidities included hypertension (60%), diabetes (15%), stroke (40%), and smoking (35%). In patients with unilateral stenosis, mean±SD CO2R for the unaffected side was 1.86±0.53%, defining abnormal CO2R as <0.80%. Mean±SD CO2R for the affected side was 1.27±0.90%. The CO2R threshold predicted abnormal acetazolamide single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) (Sn = .73, Sp = .79), CT/MRI perfusion abnormality (Sn = .42, Sp = .77), infarction on MRI (Sn = .45, Sp = .76), and pressure-dependent exam (Sn = .50, Sp = .76). For the unaffected side, mean±SD VMR was 39.5±15.8%, defining abnormal VMR as <7.9%. For the affected side, mean±SD VMR was 26.5±17.8%. The VMR threshold predicted abnormal acetazolamide SPECT (Sn = .46, Sp = .94), infarction on MRI (Sn = .27, Sp = .94), and pressure-dependent exam (Sn = .31, Sp = .90).

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with multiple vascular risk factors, a reasonable threshold for clinically significant abnormal CO2R is <0.80% and VMR is <7.9%. Noninvasive CVR may aid in diagnosing and risk stratifying patients with stenosis.

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