This research investigated local brain connectivity changes following Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA) by connectometry. Seventeen subjects (15 males and 2 females, mean age 74.1 years), all eligible for CEA, were prospectively recruited in this exploratory study. On the same day within the week before the CEA, each patient underwent a cognitive evaluation with a Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam that included a DTI sequence for the connectometry analysis. A second MMSE and the same MRI protocol were performed on follow-up, 3-6 months after CEA. The MMSE scores were analyzed using T-Student tests. The connectometry analysis was performed using a multiple regression model to consider the effect of CEA, choosing three different T-score threshold (T-threshold) values (1, 2 and 3). Results were considered statistically valid for p value adjusted for False Discovery Rate (p-FDR) < 0.05. Comparison of pre-CEA and post-CEA MMSE scores showed improvement of MMSE scores after CEA. Connectometry analysis revealed no areas of statistically significant increased connectivity related to CEA for T-threshold value = 1 and 2, but showed statistically significant increase of connectivity after CEA in both cerebellar hemispheres and corpus callosum for T-threshold value = 3 (p-FDR = 0.0106667). The network property analysis showed improved small worldness (2.14%), clustering coefficient (1.64%), local (1.94%) and global efficiency (0.56%), and reduced characteristic path length (-0.52%) after CEA. These results suggest that CEA is associated both with cognitive performance improvement and changes in interhemispheric local connectivity in the corpus callosum and cerebellum.
Keywords: Carotid endarterectomy; Connectometry; DTI.