Preoperative B‐mode ultrasound plaque appearance compared with carotid endarterectomy specimen histology

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In carotid artery stenosis both the degree of the lesion and its plaque morphology are thought to be associated with the carrier's thromboembolic risk. In this study we evaluated the diagnostic preciseness of non‐invasively B‐mode ultrasound in predicting the histopathological plaque structure. We examined 44 patients with 70% ICA stenosis by B‐mode within 6 weeks prior to carotid endarterectomy. At the affected bifurcations, up to 10 different regions of interest (ROI) per artery were investigated. Plaque appearance was classified according to 6 subtypes considering different ultrasonic plaque features. Postoperatively, plaque specimens were examined histopathologically for their relative content of calcification, fibrous tissue and different soft tissue. B‐mode ultrasound was compared with histopathological features in ROI. A total of 265 regions of interest were evaluated. In mainly echolucent types of plaques, atheromatous debris was most frequently seen, whereas fibrosis was rare. Homogeneous echolucent plaques showed a high proportion of cholesterol and/or recent haemorrhage. Thrombosis at the plaque surface was often seen in “completely echolucent” plaque type (each P<0.001). Carotid B‐mode ultrasonography is able to predict the histopathological components and the texture of carotid plaques.

Keywords: carotid artery diseases; carotid endarterectomy; histology; ultrasonics

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, University of Münster, 2: Department of Pathology, University of Aachen, Germany

Publication date: March 1, 2000

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