Previous data have indicated that carotid plaque ulceration is a strong predictor of cerebrovascular events. Standard ultrasound and color Doppler ultrasound (CDUS) scans have poor diagnostic accuracy for the detection of carotid plaque ulceration. The aim of the present prospective study was to assess the value of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) scans for the detection of carotid plaque ulceration. The Institutional Ethics Committee approved the study protocol, and all patients provided informed consent. The patients had symptomatic stenosis of the internal carotid artery and underwent carotid computed tomographic angiography as part of their clinical evaluation. All patients underwent a CDUS examination in conjunction with CEUS. Carotid plaque ulceration was defined as the presence of ≥1 disruptions in the plaque-lumen border ≥1 × 1 mm. Carotid computed tomographic angiography was used as reference technique. The study population consisted of 20 patients (mean age 64 ± 9 years, 80% men), and 39 carotid arteries were included in the present analysis. Computed tomographic angiography demonstrated that the plaque surface was smooth in 15 (38%), irregular in 7 (18%) and ulcerated in 17 (44%) carotid arteries. The sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of CDUS for the detection of ulceration was 29%, 73%, 54%, 46%, and 57%, respectively. The sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of CEUS for the detection of ulceration was 88%, 59%, 72%, 63%, and 87%, respectively. CEUS had superior sensitivity and diagnostic accuracy for the assessment of carotid plaque ulceration compared with CDUS. CEUS improved the intrareader and inter-reader variability for the assessment of carotid plaque ulceration compared with CDUS. In conclusion, CEUS could be an additional method for the detection of carotid plaque ulceration. The role of CDUS for the assessment of carotid plaque ulceration seems limited.

dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.03.028, hdl.handle.net/1765/40741
The American Journal of Cardiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

ten Kate, G.L, van Dijk, B.A.C, van den Oord, S.C.H, Hussain, B, Verhagen, H.J.M, Sijbrands, E.J.G, … Schinkel, A.F.L. (2013). Usefulness of contrast-enhanced ultrasound for detection of carotid plaque ulceration in patients with symptomatic carotid atherosclerosis. The American Journal of Cardiology, 112(2), 292–298. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.03.028