Accuracy and utility of three-dimensional contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography in planning carotid stenting

J Vasc Surg. 2007 Aug;46(2):257-63; discussion 263-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2007.03.051. Epub 2007 Jun 28.


Background: Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography (CE-MRA) is a proven diagnostic tool for the evaluation of carotid stenosis; however, its utility in planning carotid artery stenting (CAS) has not been addressed. This study assessed the accuracy of three-dimensional CE-MRA as a noninvasive screening tool, compared with digital subtraction angiography (DSA), for evaluating carotid and arch morphology before CAS.

Methods: In a series of 96 CAS procedures during a 2-year period, CE-MRAs and DSAs with complete visualization from the aortic arch to the intracranial circulation were obtained before CAS in 60 patients. Four additional patients, initially considered potential candidates for CAS, were also evaluated with CE-MRA and DSA. The two-by-two table method, receiver operating characteristic curve, and Bland-Altman analyses were used to characterize the ability of CE-MRA to discriminate carotid and arch anatomy, suitability for CAS, and degree of carotid stenosis.

Results: The sensitivity and specificity of CE-MRA were, respectively, 100% and 100% to determine CAS suitability, 87% and 100% to define aortic arch type, 93% and 100% to determine severe carotid tortuosity, and 75% and 98% to detect ulcerated plaques. CE-MRA had 87% sensitivity and 100% specificity for the detection of carotid stenosis >/=80%. The accuracy of CE MRA to determine optimal imaging angles and stent and embolic protection device sizes was >90%. The operative technique for CAS was altered because of the findings of preoperative CE-MRA in 22 procedures (38%). The most frequent change in the operative plan was the use of the telescoping technique in 11 cases (18%). CAS was aborted in four patients (5%) due to unfavorable anatomy identified on CE-MRA, including prohibitive internal carotid artery tortuosity (n = 1), long string sign of the internal carotid artery (n = 2), and concomitant intracranial disease (n = 1). Among patients considered suitable for CAS by CE-MRA, technical success was 100%, and the 30-day stroke/death rate was 1.6%.

Conclusions: Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance angiography of the arch and carotid arteries is accurate in determining suitability for CAS and may alter the operative technique. Certain anatomic contraindications for CAS may be detected without DSA. Although CE-MRA is less accurate to estimate the degree of stenosis, it can accurately predict imaging angles, and stent and embolic protection device size, which may facilitate safe and expeditious CAS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction*
  • Angioplasty / instrumentation*
  • Angioplasty / methods
  • Aorta, Thoracic / diagnostic imaging
  • Aorta, Thoracic / pathology
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Arteries / pathology
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnosis*
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Stenosis / pathology
  • Carotid Stenosis / surgery
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Planning*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stents*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Contrast Media