This study describes clinicopathological characteristics of pseudo-occlusion of the internal carotid artery with regard to its possible mechanisms.
The authors retrospectively reviewed 17 patients with pseudo-occlusion and 23 with high-grade stenosis (North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial criteria ≥ 90%, but no collapsed distal internal carotid artery) who underwent carotid endarterectomy. Atherosclerotic risk factors, clinical presentation, angiographic findings, and histological features of plaque obtained from the carotid endarterectomy were investigated and comparisons were made between groups.
Plaques obtained in the pseudo-occlusion group were significantly more fibrous and less atheromatous than those in the high-grade stenosis group. Old, organized thrombi were more frequently found in pseudo-occlusion group plaques than in high-grade stenosis group plaques. Plaques acquired in the pseudo-occlusion group had 2 different histological features: the presence or absence of the original lumen. The pseudo-occlusion plaques with total occlusion and recanalization (8 patients) were composed of thrombotic total occlusion with lumen recanalization by large neovascular channels, whereas those with severe stenosis (9 patients) were fibrous or fibroatheromatous and had severe stenosis of the original lumen. In patients with pseudo-occlusion and total occlusion and recanalization, the authors observed a significantly higher incidence of transient ischemic attack and anterior communicating artery–posterior communicating artery collateral flow than those with high-grade stenosis and pseudo-occlusion with severe stenosis.
Plaques of the pseudo-occlusion group were more fibrous than those of the high-grade stenosis group and had 2 different histological features: pseudo-occlusion with total occlusion and recanalization or pseudoocclusion with severe stenosis. This difference in plaque histology may be related to the clinical features of pseudoocclusion, such as symptoms and collateral flow patterns.