Incidental internal carotid artery calcifications on temporal bone CT in children

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Abstract

Background

Incidental internal carotid artery (ICA) calcifications are occasionally noted on CT images of the brain and temporal bone. In adults, incidental calcifications have been correlated with increased incidence of hypercholesterolemia, cardiac disease, diabetes and carotid stenosis.

Objective

To determine the incidence of incidental calcifications of the carotid siphon on temporal bone CT in children.

Materials and methods

We retrospectively reviewed 24 months of consecutive temporal bone CT examinations in children aged 18 years and younger. CT examinations on 663 patients were reviewed and the presence or absence of ICA calcifications was ranked as absent, questionable or definitive. In patients in whom definitive calcifications were identified, hospital charts were reviewed for evidence of diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperlipidemia and chronic renal disease as potential causes of early atherosclerosis.

Results

Of the 663 patients, 25% had definitive calcifications within the wall of the ICA: 6% of children younger than 2 years and 28% of children 12–19 years of age.

Conclusions

Incidentally noted ICA calcifications are a common finding on temporal bone CT in children, most likely a physiologic response to turbulent flow at natural bends in the artery rather than secondary to underlying disease predisposing to early atherosclerotic calcification.

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