The Role of Transcranial Doppler Monitoring in Patients with Multi-Territory Acute Embolic Strokes: A Review

J Neuroimaging. 2019 May;29(3):309-322. doi: 10.1111/jon.12602. Epub 2019 Jan 31.


Acute multi-territory, embolic cerebral infarctions are often associated with serious underlying clinical conditions including the presence of highly "active" emboligenic sources causing that in turn may result in high early recurrence rates. Prompt diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment are substantial for the prevention of subsequent embolization that would result in further clinical deterioration. Among other clinical investigations, transcranial Doppler (TCD) monitoring is highly efficacious for the detection of microembolic signals (MES) that correspond to microthrombi entering the intracranial circulation. The presence and burden of MES, especially in multiple intracranial arteries, is clearly associated with an increased risk of symptomatic, recurrent embolization, and thus can justify a more aggressive treatment approach (clopidogrel load followed by dual antiplatelet therapy or alternatively therapeutic dose of low-molecular-weight heparin). In this narrative review, we discuss the most important causes of multi-territory embolic ischemic strokes and also underscore the utility of TCD as a noninvasive tool for the diagnosis, risk stratification, and treatment.

Keywords: antiphospholipid syndrome; microembolic signals; stroke; transcranial Doppler.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism / complications
  • Intracranial Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial*