A large Italian study suggests that ultrasound can predict the risk of stroke in mostly asymptomatic patients based on the assessment of carotid artery plaque morphology, not just the degree of stenosis. Sonographic surveillance of plaque evolution could boost stroke prevention.
Based on a prospective cohort of 1655 patients who underwent ultrasound-based assessments of carotid plaque morphologic characteristics, stenosis degree, and common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), principal investigator Dr. Edoardo Vicenzini of the department of neurological sciences at the University of Rome found that hypertension and diabetes correlated with thicker IMTs and more severe, complex plaques. Two-thirds of patients with complex plaques were asymptomatic for cerebrovascular disease. Findings appeared in the September Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (2008;27:1313-1319)