Aging, Aortic Arch Calcification, and Multiple Brain Infarcts Are Associated with Aortogenic Brain Embolism

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Mobile or ulcerated aortic plaques (MUAPs) on transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) can cause aortogenic brain embolism. Aortic arch calcification (AoAC) on chest X-ray represents systemic atherosclerosis. This study focused on AoAC on chest X-ray and its link with atheromatous aortic plaques (AAPs) on TEE in stroke patients. The aim of the present study was to assess the relationship between AoAC and AAPs in unexplained stroke patients.


A total of 178 patients (mean age: 64 ± 15 years; 115 males) with ischemic stroke who underwent TEE were enrolled. The patients were classified based on TEE findings: (1) AAPs <4 mm; (2) AAPs ≥4 mm, and (3) MUAPs. The extent of AoAC on chest X-ray was divided into 4 grades (0-3). Clinical characteristics including AoAC were compared among the 3 groups. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to identify the independent factors associated with MUAPs. An original diagnostic criterion was defined as a potential indicator of MUAPs in unexplained stroke patients.


104 (58%) patients had AAPs <4 mm, 46 (26%) had AAPs ≥4 mm, and 28 (16%) had MUAPs. Older age (OR: 1.14; 95% CI: 1.06-1.24; p = 0.001), AoAC (OR: 2.35; 95% CI: 1.30-4.24; p = 0.005), and multiple infarctions in multiple vascular territories (VTs) demonstrated on diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) (OR: 2.58; 95% CI: 1.35-4.92; p = 0.004) were independently associated with MUAPs. The CAM score was defined as consisting of the degree of AoAC (0-3 points), age (≥70 years: 1 point), and DWI findings (multiple infarctions in 1 VT: 1 point; 2 VTs: 2 points; more than 3 VTs: 3 points). The prevalence of MUAPs was substantially increased in patients with medium risk (CAM score 3-4, OR: 7.68; 95% CI: 2.89-20.44; p < 0.001) and high risk (CAM score 5-7, OR: 20.63; 95% CI: 5.12-83.06; p < 0.001).


Older age, advanced AoAC, and multiple infarctions in multiple VTs are associated with aortogenic brain embolism. The CAM score can be useful for the diagnosis of aortogenic brain embolism.


Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel

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