Mild Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis: Assessment by 3-Dimensional Time-of-Flight Magnetic Resonance Angiography, With Reference to Intravascular Ultrasound Imaging and Contrast Angiography

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Background and Purpose

Our aim was to evaluate the usefulness of 3-dimensional time-of-flight magnetic resonance angiography (3-D TOF MRA) in detection and quantification of mild atherosclerotic changes of carotid arteries with reference to intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and contrast angiography.


TOF MRA at 1.5 T, IVUS, and selective digital subtraction angiography were performed on 31 extracranial carotid arteries of 27 patients (mean age, 52 years; age range, 17 to 75 years) undergoing neuroendovascular interventions. The atherosclerotic lesions were registered, and quantitative measurements of plaque thickness, luminal diameters, and diameter stenosis were independently performed for the imaging modalities.


Among 170 arterial segments analyzed, IVUS revealed a total of 48 atherosclerotic lesions (mean diameter stenosis, 17%; range, 4% to 40%), only 25 of which were depicted on digital subtraction angiography. Analysis of the axial source images of TOF MRA resulted in sensitivity of 77% to 83% and specificity of 71% to 80% in lesion depiction for the 2 readers with reference to IVUS. The values of diameter stenosis measured from MRA and IVUS were closely interrelated (r=0.53 to 0.61, P<0.001).


Three-dimensional TOF MRA is feasible and moderately accurate for evaluation of mild atherosclerotic changes of carotid arteries. (Stroke. 1999;30:827-833.)

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