Kazumichi Yoshida, Ryu Fukumitsu, Yoshitaka Kurosaki, Takeshi Funaki, Takayuki Kikuchi, Jun C. Takahashi, Yasushi Takagi, Sen Yamagata and Susumu Miyamoto
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association between carotid artery (CA) expansive remodeling (ER) and symptoms of cerebral ischemia.
One hundred twenty-two consecutive CAs scheduled for CA endarterectomy (CEA) or CA stent placement (CAS) were retrospectively studied. After excluding 22 CAs (2 were contraindicated for MRI, 8 had near-occlusion, 6 had poor image quality, and 6 had restenosis after CEA or CAS), there were 100 CAs (100 patients) included in the final analysis. The study included 50 symptomatic patients (mean age 73.6 ± 8.9 years, 6 women, mean stenosis 68.5% ± 21.3%) and 50 asymptomatic patients (mean age 72.0 ± 5.9 years, 5 women, mean stenosis 79.4% ± 8.85%). Expansive remodeling was defined as enlargement of the internal carotid artery (ICA) with outward plaque growth. The ER ratio was calculated by dividing the maximum distance between the lumen and the outer borders of the plaque perpendicular to the axis of the ICA by the maximal luminal diameter of the distal ICA at a region unaffected by atherosclerosis using long-axis, high-resolution MRI.
The ER ratio of the atherosclerotic CA was significantly greater than that of normal physiological expansion (carotid bulb; p < 0.01). The ER ratio of symptomatic CA stenosis (median 1.94, interquartile range [IQR] 1.58–2.23) was significantly greater than that of asymptomatic CA stenosis (median 1.52, IQR 1.34–1.81; p = 0.0001). When the cutoff value of the ER ratio was set to 1.88, the sensitivity and specificity to detect symptoms were 0.6 and 0.78, respectively. The ER ratio of symptomatic patients was consistently high regardless of the degree of stenosis.
There was a significant correlation between ER ratio and ischemic symptoms. The ER ratio might be a potential indicator of vulnerable plaque, which requires further validation by prospective observational study of asymptomatic patients.
Kazumichi Yoshida, Tao Yang, Yu Yamamoto, Yoshitaka Kurosaki, Takeshi Funaki, Takayuki Kikuchi, Akira Ishii, Hiroharu Kataoka and Susumu Miyamoto
Accumulated findings in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis have demonstrated that not only luminal narrowing but also plaque characteristics influence the risk of future ischemic events. The morphology of the carotid artery (CA) changes in response to atherosclerotic development by expansive remodeling (ER), the clinical significance of which remains unclear. This study aimed to define associations between ER and local risk factors, including CA geometry and traditional systemic risk factors for ischemic events, to determine whether ER could serve as a clinical marker of carotid vulnerable plaque.
The authors retrospectively analyzed 66 patients with CA stenosis who were scheduled to undergo carotid endarterectomy or CA stenting. They calculated ER ratios in the internal CA (ICA) from long-axis MR images and as the maximal distance between the lumen and the outer borders of the plaque perpendicular to the axis of the ICA/the maximal luminal diameter of the distal ICA at a region unaffected by atherosclerosis. Relative overall signal intensity (roSI) was calculated to assess intraplaque hemorrhage and defined as the signal intensity of plaque on an axial T1-weighted image with maximal stenosis relative to that of the adjacent sternocleidomastoid muscle. The authors evaluated CA geometry by calculating the angles between the common CA (CCA) and ICA, and between the CCA and external CA (ECA) using digital subtraction angiography. The ER ratios, age, sex, percentage of stenosis, roSI, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, low-density lipoprotein, statin medication, diabetes, smoking habit, and ischemic heart disease were compared between 33 symptomatic and 33 asymptomatic patients. The authors also compared symptomatic status, age, sex, percentage of stenosis, ICA angle, ECA angle, roSI, and other traditional atherosclerotic risk factors between groups with extensive and slight ER.
The ER ratio was significantly greater in symptomatic than in asymptomatic patients (1.91 ± 0.46 vs 1.68 ± 0.40, p < 0.05). The ICA angle was significantly larger in the group with extensive ER than in those with slight ER (33.9° ± 20.2° vs 21.7° ± 13.8°, p < 0.01). The roSI, ECA angle, percentage stenosis, or any other traditional vascular risk factors were not associated with ER.
Carotid ER might be an independent indicator of carotid vulnerable plaque, which should be validated in a longitudinal study of patients with carotid atherosclerosis, including those with nonstenotic to moderate stenosis.