Carotid calcification on panoramic radiographs: an important marker for vascular risk

Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2002 Oct;94(4):510-4. doi: 10.1067/moe.2002.125580.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether carotid calcifications are harbingers of future vascular events.

Study design: Between 1986 and 2000, 71 patients were found to have carotid artery calcifications on routine panoramic films. Medical records were reviewed for vascular risk factors existing before and vascular end points subsequent to the radiographs.

Results: The mean age of our patients was 68 years. Sixty-one (86%) had preexisting vascular risk factors, 73% with multiple risk factors. Forty-one end points occurred in 29 patients. The average time to an end point was 2.7 years. The end points included myocardial infarction (8, 11%), stroke (5, 7%), death (11, 15%), revascularization procedures (8, 11%), transient ischemic attack (2, 3%), and angina (7, 10%). Twenty-three patients (34%) had major end points of myocardial infarction, stroke, or death.

Conclusions: Carotid calcifications identified on panoramic radiographs are powerful markers for subsequent vascular events. Patients found to have carotid calcification on panoramic radiographs should be referred for cerebrovascular and cardiovascular evaluation and aggressive management of vascular risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / etiology
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cause of Death
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Revascularization
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography, Panoramic*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / etiology