Non-invasive screening for renal artery stenosis with ultrasound contrast enhancement

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ObjectiveOur aim was to evaluate duplex ultrasound imaging in the identification of renal artery stenosis using a new technique to enhance the recorded Doppler signal.DesignColour Doppler studies of interlobar renal arteries were performed before and after enhancement using an intravenous contrast of galactose microparticle suspension containing microbubbles (Levovist, Schering) in patients with angiographically confirmed renal artery stenosis.SettingBlood Pressure Unit, St. George's Hospital Medical School, and Department of Radiology, The Middlesex Hospital, London, UK.ParticipantsTwenty-one consecutive hypertensive patients in whom the diagnosis of renal artery stenosis was made on digital subtraction angiography.Main outcome measuresThe diagnosis of haemodynamically significant renal artery stenosis (≥60% on angiography).ResultsWith Levovist, there was a 20 db increase in the Doppler intensity and, as a result, intrarenal signals were much more clearly delineated and distinct spectral waveforms were obtained from all but one kidney, which was occluded. Significant associations were found between the degree of stenosis (as assessed by angiography) and the following Doppler parameters: diastolic velocity (F=7.6; P < 0.01), acceleration time (F=33.5, < 0.0001), peak systolic velocity (F=37.7, P < 0.0001) and acceleration (F=60.0; P < 0.0001). Without enhancement, there were five false-positive and two false-negative examinations (sensitivity 85%; specificity 79%) using the acceleration cut-off value of 3.5 m/s2 to identify haemodynamically significant renal artery stenosis (≥60% on angiography). After contrast enhancement, there were only three false-positive and one false-negative examinations (sensitivity 94% and specificity of 88%) using the acceleration cut-off value of 3.75 m/s2 and the examination time was reduced by approximately half (sensitivity and specificity of 90% using the acceleration cut-off value of 3.5 m/s2).ConclusionsOur results suggest that renal duplex scanning using contrast enhancement is a promising new non-invasive technique in screening patients with suspected renal artery stenosis. Contrast enhancement produces more reproducible spectral waveforms, improves accuracy and halves the examination time.

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