Symptoms, stenosis and carotid plaque morphology. Is plaque morphology relevant?

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Objectives: To study the relationship between carotid plaque morphology and the degree of stenosis on Duplex ultrasonography and symptoms. Design: Prospective open clinical study. Methods: 2590 patients with 5180 carotid arteries were scanned, 4560 were initially analysed in terms of symptoms but 54 were excluded, leaving a total of 4258. Results: Localising symptoms were present with respect to 1342 vessels (29.4%). Two-thirds of symptomatic patients had normal carotid arteries. Tight stenosis (80-99%) was more likely to be associated with symptoms than low-grade (20-79%) stenosis (x2=28.0, p < 0.0001). Plaque type was identified in 1558 bifurcations (36.6%). Heterogeneous type I & II plaques accounted for one third of plaques. There was a relationship between plaque morphology and degree of stenosis. At < 20% stenosis only 4.4% of plaques were heterogeneous whereas at 80-99% stenosis 84.5% of plaques were heterogeneous. Amaurosis fugax was the only symptom that had any association with a particular plaque morphology. Seventy-two percent of plaques associated with this symptom were heterogeneous in nature. Conclusions: Carotid plaque morphology and degree of internal carotid stenosis are mutually dependent factors and both reflect the severity of atherosclerotic disease. Plaque morphology does not add to the sensitivity of stenosis in predicting the presence of symptoms. © 1995 W. B. Saunders Company Ltd.




Holdsworth, R. J., McCollum, P. T., Bryce, J. S., & Harrison, D. K. (1995). Symptoms, stenosis and carotid plaque morphology. Is plaque morphology relevant? European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, 9(1), 80–85.

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