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  • Author or Editor: Yoshitaka Kurosaki x
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Yoshitaka Kurosaki, Kazumichi Yoshida, Ryu Fukumitsu, Nobutake Sadamasa, Akira Handa, Masaki Chin and Sen Yamagata

OBJECT

Plaque characteristics and morphology are important indicators of plaque vulnerability. MRI-detected intraplaque hemorrhage has a great effect on plaque vulnerability. Expansive remodeling, which has been considered compensatory enlargement of the arterial wall in the progression of atherosclerosis, is one of the criteria of vulnerable plaque in the coronary circulation. The purpose of this study was risk stratification of carotid artery plaque through the evaluation of quantitative expansive remodeling and MRI plaque signal intensity.

METHODS

Both preoperative carotid artery T1-weighted axial and long-axis MR images of 70 patients who underwent carotid endarterectomy (CEA) or carotid artery stenting (CAS) were studied. The expansive remodeling ratio (ERR) was calculated from the ratio of the linear diameter of the artery at the thickest segment of the plaque to the diameter of the artery on the long-axis image. Relative plaque signal intensity (rSI) was also calculated from the axial image, and the patients were grouped as follows: Group A = rSI ≥ 1.40 and ERR ≥ 1.66; Group B = rSI< 1.40 and ERR ≥ 1.66; Group C = rSI 1.40 and ERR < 1.66; and Group D = rSI < 1.40 and ERR < 1.66. Ischemic events within 6 months were retrospectively evaluated in each group.

RESULTS

Of the 70 patients, 17 (74%) in Group A, 6 (43%) in Group B, 7 (44%) in Group C, and 6 (35%) in Group D had ischemic events. Ischemic events were significantly more common in Group A than in Group D (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS

In the present series of patients with carotid artery stenosis scheduled for CEA or CAS, patients with plaque with a high degree of expansion of the vessel and T1 high signal intensity were at higher risk of ischemic events. The combined assessment of plaque characterization with MRI and morphological evaluation using ERR might be useful in risk stratification for carotid lesions, which should be validated by a prospective, randomized study of asymptomatic patients.

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Kazumichi Yoshida, Ryu Fukumitsu, Yoshitaka Kurosaki, Takeshi Funaki, Takayuki Kikuchi, Jun C. Takahashi, Yasushi Takagi, Sen Yamagata and Susumu Miyamoto

OBJECT

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association between carotid artery (CA) expansive remodeling (ER) and symptoms of cerebral ischemia.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

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Kazumichi Yoshida, Tao Yang, Yu Yamamoto, Yoshitaka Kurosaki, Takeshi Funaki, Takayuki Kikuchi, Akira Ishii, Hiroharu Kataoka and Susumu Miyamoto

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.