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Eur Radiol. 2001;11(9):1521-34.

Ultrasound examination of carotid and vertebral arteries.

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  • 1Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Krankenhaus der Henriettenstiftung, Marienstrasse 72-90, 30171 Hannover, Germany.


Ultrasound is the most widespread diagnostic procedure in obstructive disease of the arteries supplying the brain. The combined non-invasive information on morphology and function makes duplex ultrasound the procedure of choice in screening and follow-up of carotid artery disease. This review deals with all relevant aspects of color duplex ultrasound of the carotids and the vertebral arteries. After a short introduction into the clinical background, the paper focuses on aspects of examination technique. In the main part of the review the relevant ultrasound findings in carotid artery disease are discussed. The different methods for grading stenoses of the internal carotid artery are explained in detail. Other relevant pathologies, such as vertebral artery disease, dissection and aneurysms, are briefly mentioned. The clinical value of ultrasound in the work-up of carotid and vertebral artery disease is briefly discussed in comparison with other imaging procedures.

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