AimsCarotid contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) was recently proposed for the evaluation of large-vessel vasculitides (LVV), particularly to assess vascularization within the vessel wall. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the potential of carotid colour Doppler ultrasound (CDUS) and CEUS in patients with LVV.Methods and resultsThis prospective study included seven patients (mean age 48 ± 14 years, all females) with established LVV (Takayasu arteritis or giant cell arteritis). All patients underwent CDUS and CEUS (14 carotid arteries). Intima-media thickness, lumen diameter, Doppler velocities, vessel wall thickening, and lesion thickness were assessed. CEUS was used to improve visualization of the lumen-to-vessel wall border, and to visualize carotid wall vascularization. Four (57%) patients [7 (50%) carotid arteries] exhibited lesions, and the average lesion thickness was 2.0 ± 0.5 mm. According to the Doppler peak systolic velocity, 5 (35%) carotid arteries had a <50% stenosis, 1 (7%) had a 50-70% stenosis, and 1 (7%) had a ≥70% stenosis. The contrast agent improved the image quality and the definition of the lumen-to-vascular wall border. Carotid wall vascularization was observed in 5 (71%) patients [9 (64%) carotid arteries]. Five (36%) carotid arteries had mild-to-moderate vascularization, and 4 (29%) had severe wall vascularization.ConclusionCarotid CDUS allows the assessment of anatomical features of LVV, including vessel wall thickening and degree of stenosis. Carotid CEUS improves the visualization of the lumen border, and allows dynamic assessment of carotid wall vascularization, which is a potential marker of disease activity in patients with LVV.

, , ,,
European Heart Journal Cardiovascular Imaging
Department of Immunology

Schinkel, A., van den Oord, S., van der Steen, T., van Laar, J., & Sijbrands, E. (2014). Utility of contrast-enhanced ultrasound for the assessment of the carotid artery wall in patients with Takayasu or giant cell arteritis. European Heart Journal Cardiovascular Imaging, 15(5), 541–546. doi:10.1093/ehjci/jet243