Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of an echo-enhancing agent in patients with carotid artery occlusion to improve the sensitivity and specificity of carotid color flow ultrasonography.
Method: Between January 1997 and December 1998, a prospective study involving 85 cases of carotid artery occlusion in 84 patients was carried out. After a baseline duplex ultrasonography (DU) diagnosis, a second (DU) along with an echo-enhancement agent (SHU-508-A [Levovist]) study was carried out (echo enhancement ultrasonography diagnosis [DUEE]). In 82 cases, a contrast angiography was performed to confirm the diagnosis, whereas in the other three cases the diagnoses were confirmed with surgery.
Results: From the 85 internal carotid artery occlusions diagnosed at the initial DU examination, seven came out to be false occlusions in the DUEE examination (8,2%). There was a 100% correlation of the cases between the DUEE examination and the contrast angiography in the 82 cases in which this had been done. In three of the cases, the diagnosis was confirmed surgically because these displayed severe stenoses according to the DUEE studies in symptomatic patients, and so they required urgent treatment.
Conclusions: The DUEE study is a potent diagnosis tool that allows the differentiation between true carotid artery occlusions and pseudo-occlusions.