Duplex Scanning Exploration of the Ophthalmic Artery for the Detection of the Hemodynamically Significant ICA Stenosis

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Background and Purpose

The North American and the European Carotid Endarterectomy Trials demonstrated a significant benefit of surgery in preventing stroke for patients with symptomatic hemodynamically significant internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis. Because the 3 angiographic methods of measuring carotid stenosis provide discrepant results, the indication for surgery depends on the method used for the evaluation of the angiogram. The goal of this study was to verify whether color duplex scanning of the ophthalmic artery alone might be reliable for detection of the extracranial hemodynamically significant ICA stenosis.


Three groups of patients (351 total patients) with transient ischemic attack or minor stroke referred for possible carotid endarterectomy were examined by means of color duplex scanning of the ICA, transcranial Doppler, color duplex scanning of the ophthalmic artery, and angiography of the ICA.


In the first group (n=31) the comparison of findings from each method and the direct measurement of the residual lumen of plaque removed "en bloc" showed that the findings of the ophthalmic artery color duplex scanning, subdivided into 5 categories-NP (normal positive), LP (low positive), NF (no flow), REV (reverse flow), PP (pathological positive)-were associated with the best overall agreement (96.7%). The accuracy of the various categories of the ophthalmic artery color duplex scanning signals was studied in the second group of patients (n=200). The results pointed out that all but low positive categories were associated with high diagnostic accuracy. Finally, the results obtained in the third group (n=120) showed that a significant increase in the specificity of the low positive signal could be obtained by processing this signal in terms of pulsatility index and of transmission of pulsatility index.


Our results suggest that the diagnostic capacity of color duplex scanning for the detection of ICA critical stenosis can be appropriately increased if it is performed also at the level of the ophthalmic artery and if the Doppler signals are processed on the basis of criteria we applied. (Stroke. 1999;30:821-826.)

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