Background and Purpose- An ipsilateral mild carotid stenosis, defined as plaque with <50% luminal narrowing, is identified in nearly 40% of patients with embolic stroke of undetermined source and could represent an unrecognized source of atheroembolism. We aimed to summarize data about the frequency of mild carotid stenosis with high-risk features in embolic stroke of undetermined source. Methods- We searched Pubmed and Ovid-Embase for studies reporting carotid plaque imaging features in embolic stroke of undetermined source. The prevalence of ipsilateral and contralateral mild carotid stenosis with high-risk features was pooled using random-effect meta-analysis. Results- Eight studies enrolling 323 participants were included. The prevalence of mild carotid stenosis with high-risk features in the ipsilateral carotid was 32.5% (95% CI, 25.3-40.2) compared with 4.6% (95% CI, 0.1-13.1) in the contralateral carotid. The odds ratio of finding a plaque with high-risk features in the ipsilateral versus the contralateral carotid was 5.5 (95% CI, 2.5-12.0). Conclusions- Plaques with high-risk features are 5 times more prevalent in the ipsilateral compared with the contralateral carotid in embolic stroke of undetermined source, suggesting a relationship to stroke risk.
Keywords: carotid stenosis; odds ratio; prevalence; risk; stroke.