Carotid webs (CWs) have increasingly been recognized as a cause of recurrent ischemic stroke. However, the natural history and clinical course of CWs remain unclear. The authors aimed to clarify the prevalence, imaging features, and optimal treatment of CWs in a Japanese cohort study.
A series of 444 consecutive Japanese patients who had undergone CTA of the head and neck between April 2011 and October 2016 was retrospectively reviewed. CW was diagnosed on CT angiograms as a membrane-like intraluminal filling defect along the posterior wall of the carotid bulb or the origin of the internal carotid artery (ICA) on oblique sagittal images and a corresponding thin septum on axial images.
Two patients with CWs were identified among 132 patients with suspected stroke. The prevalence of CWs among symptomatic patients with suspected stroke was 1.5%. The prevalence of asymptomatic CWs was 2.2% (7 of 312 cases). The CWs were located in the posterior wall of the carotid bulb in 7 patients and just distal to the ICA origin in 2 patients. There were no apparent differences in the location or lesion length between symptomatic and asymptomatic CWs. Four of the 7 asymptomatic CWs remained asymptomatic for at least 2 years of follow-up. Two patients with symptomatic CWs developed recurrent cerebral infarction and transient ischemic attack despite being on a regimen of oral antiplatelet agents, and carotid endarterectomy was performed as radical treatment. Patients with CWs were younger than controls (median age 55 vs 69 years, p = 0.003) and were less frequently male than controls (33% vs 72%, p = 0.025). CW cases showed significantly fewer common atherosclerosis risk factors than the control group (p < 0.05).
Although limited to CTA patients, this study reported on the prevalence and common site of CWs, focusing on symptomatic and asymptomatic Japanese patients. Extensive cross-sectional and prospective observational studies are warranted to elucidate the overall prevalence and natural history of CWs.