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Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:293163. doi: 10.1155/2015/293163. Epub 2015 Jun 21.

Use of Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound in Carotid Atherosclerotic Disease: Limits and Perspectives.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Turin, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Città della Salute e della Scienza, Molinette Corso Bramante 88, 10126 Torino, Italy.


Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) has recently become one of the most versatile and powerful diagnostic tools in vascular surgery. One of the most interesting fields of application of this technique is the study of the carotid atherosclerotic plaque vascularization and its correlation with neurological symptoms (transient ischemic attack, minor stroke, and major stroke) and with the characteristics of the "vulnerable plaque" (surface ulceration, hypoechoic plaques, intraplaque hemorrhage, thinner fibrous cap, and carotid plaque neovascularization at histopathological analysis of the sample after surgical removal). The purpose of this review is to collect all the original studies available in literature (24 studies with 1356 patients enrolled) and to discuss the state of the art, limits, and future perspectives of CEUS analysis. The results of this work confirm the reliability of this imaging study for the detection of plaques with high risk of embolization; however, a shared, user-friendly protocol of imaging analysis is not available yet. The definition of this operative protocol becomes mandatory in order to compare results from different centers and to validate a cerebrovascular risk stratification of the carotid atherosclerotic lesions evaluated with CEUS.

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