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Neurol Res. 2002 Oct;24(7):705-8.

Carotid artery auscultation--anachronism or useful screening procedure?

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Debrecen, Hungary.


Carotid bruits are supposed to indicate the presence of high-grade common carotid or extracranial internal carotid artery stenosis in a large proportion of patients. Using a stethoscope, we prospectively auscultated 273 carotid arteries of 145 patients blinded to the results of a complete extracranial and intracranial Doppler investigation including extracranial color-coded duplex ultrasound. Fifty-four arteries showed stenosis of > or = 50%-99%, or occlusion of the extracranial internal or the common carotid artery. In 25 of these arteries, a bruit was present. In 9 out of 16 patients with extracranial stenosis from 70%-99%, a bruit was detected. In one additional patient with a middle-grade external carotid artery stenosis, a bruit was also present. In seven additional patients, a bruit was present in the absence of any carotid artery stenosis, cardiac vitium or goiter. The sensitivity of carotid auscultation for the detection of a 70%-99% stenosis of the common or extracranial internal carotid artery was 56% and specificity was 91%. The positive predictive value of a bruit found during carotid auscultation was 27%, and the negative predictive value of a normal auscultation was 97%. Carotid auscultation is a useful screening procedure in the detection of carotid stenosis or occlusion, but requires confirmation by carotid ultrasound.

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