The aim of the present study was to determine whether preoperative three-dimensional (3D) fast spin-echo (FSE) T1-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) plaque imaging for severely stenotic cervical carotid arteries could accurately predict the development of artery-to-artery emboli during exposure of the carotid arteries in carotid endarterectomy (CEA). Seventy-five patients underwent preoperative MR plaque imaging and CEA under transcranial Doppler ultrasonography of the ipsilateral middle cerebral artery. On reformatted axial MR image slices showing the maximum plaque occupation rate (POR) and maximum plaque intensity for each patient, the contrast ratio (CR) was calculated by dividing the internal carotid artery plaque signal intensity by the sternocleidomastoid muscle signal intensity. For all patients, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC)-used to discriminate between the presence and absence of microembolic signals-was significantly greater for the CR on the axial image with maximum plaque intensity (CRmax intensity) (0.941) than for that with the maximum POR (0.885) (p < 0.05). For 32 patients in whom both the maximum POR and the maximum plaque density were identified, the AUCs for the CR were 1.000. Preoperative 3D FSE T1-weighted MR plaque imaging accurately predicts the development of artery-to-artery emboli during exposure of the carotid arteries in CEA.
Keywords: artery-to-artery embolism; carotid endarterectomy; fast spin echo magnetic resonance; plaque imaging; three-dimensional.