Purpose: Several studies have investigated the correlation between Doppler ultrasonography (DUS), angiography (CA), and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) in the evaluation of stenosis of the carotid bifurcation. However, these studies suffer from the lack of a true control-the lesion itself-and therefore conclusions about the diagnostic accuracy of each method remain relative. To determine the absolute accuracy of these modalities, we have prospectively studied lesion size with DUS, MRA, and CA in 28 patients undergoing 31 elective carotid endarterectomies and compared the percent of carotid stenosis determined by each technique to the carotid atheroma resected en bloc.
Methods: All patients were evaluated by each modality within 1 month before the thromboendarterectomy. With DUS, stenosis size was determined by standard flow criteria. For angiography and MRA, stenosis was defined as residual lumenal diameter/estimated normal arterial diameter (European Carotid Surgery Trial criteria). At surgery the carotid atheroma was removed en bloc in all patients. Patients in whom the lesion could not be removed successfully without damage were excluded from the study. Stenosis of the atheroma was determined ex vivo with high-resolution (0.03 mm3) magnetic resonance and confirmed by acrylic injection of the specimen under pressure and measurement of the atheroma wall and lumen.
Results: The measurements of the ex vivo stenosis by high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging correlated closely with the size of stenosis determined by the acrylic specimen casts (r = 0.92). By ex vivo measurement, the lesions were placed in the following size categories: 40% to 59% stenosis (n = 2), 60% to 79% stenosis (n = 6), 80% to 89% stenosis (n = 7), and 90% to 99% stenosis (n = 16).
Conclusions: In general, the correlation of measurements of ex vivo stenosis with all modalities was good in these severely diseased arteries, although it was better for DUS (r = 0.80; p < 0.001) and MRA (r = 0.76; p < 0.001) than for CA (r = 0.56; p < 0.05).