Comparison between conventional and automated software-guided ultrasound assessment of bilateral common carotids intima-media thickness in patients with rheumatic diseases

Clin Rheumatol. 2012 May;31(5):881-4. doi: 10.1007/s10067-011-1915-y. Epub 2012 Jan 4.


Over the last decade, a growing number of studies have been published supporting the high prevalence of atherosclerosis in rheumatic patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. Ultrasound (US) represents the imaging technique of choice for revealing early atherosclerotic changes at carotids level. New US software, mainly developed to rectify its operator dependence, requires a comparison with conventional technique. The main aim of the present study was to compare conventional and software-guided US in the assessment of intima-media thickness (IMT) of common carotids. Thirty-two consecutive patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic conditions, presenting at the outpatient clinics of the Rheumatology Department--Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy--were enrolled in the present study. The patients underwent a US assessment of the IMT of the posterior wall of common carotids using a My Lab 70 XVG system (Esaote SpA, Genoa, Italy) equipped with a 4-13 MHz linear probe. The US examinations were performed by two sonographers. One of them used the conventional manual approach and the second sonographer adopted a software-guided technique (named RF-QIMT technology). Inter-observer reliability was determined using intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) and the Bland-Altman plot. Agreement between the two methods was high with ICC value of 0.74 (0.69 and 0.77 for the right and left common carotid, respectively). The Bland-Altman plot showed minimal proportional error and high limits of agreement. Substantial inter-observer agreement rates for the assessment of the IMT were achieved. Further studies are encouraged to confirm these results in a larger cohort of patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carotid Artery, Common / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rheumatic Diseases
  • Software*
  • Ultrasonography / instrumentation*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Young Adult