Evaluation of the stability of carotid atherosclerotic plaque with contrast-enhanced ultrasound
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The aim of this study is to determine the stability of carotid atherosclerotic plaque (CAP) using contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS).
CEUS images of 93 patients were evaluated to observe new vessels within CAPs. Microembolic signals (MES) were detected using transcranial Doppler (TCD). Thirty-four patients with hyperechoic plaques were evaluated as the control group.
Eighty percent (75/93) of plaques showed contrast enhancement on CEUS, including 50.7 % (38/75) of hypoechoic plaques and 49.3 % (37/75) of mixed echoic plaques. No plaques in the control group showed enhancement on CEUS. With TCD, 35.5 % (33/93) of patients were positive for MES. Plaques with grade 2 or 3 enhancement on CEUS had a higher positive rate for MES. Forty-one patients with grade 2 or 3 enhancement on CEUS presented with fresh infarctions confirmed by computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
In conclusion, grade 2 or 3 contrast enhancement observed on CEUS indicated vulnerable plaques.
KeywordsCarotid atheromatous plaque Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) Neovascularization Transcranial Doppler (TCD) Microembolus signal (MES)
Contract grant sponsor: Science and Technology Development Projects of Jilin Province (major project) (contract grant number: 20110485) and Health Department Projects of Jilin Province (contract grant number: 2011Z065).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
We declare that we have no conflict of interest in connection with this paper.
All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008. The study protocol was approved by our hospital ethics committee, and informed consent was obtained from all study participants prior to the ultrasound examination.
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