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Ann Vasc Surg. 2019 Feb 22. pii: S0890-5096(19)30164-5. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2018.12.086. [Epub ahead of print]

Peak Systolic Velocity for Calcified Plaques Fails to Estimate Carotid Stenosis Degree.

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INVASE - Hospital Beneficência Portuguesa de São José do Rio Preto, Vascular Surgery, São José do Rio Preto, SP, Brazil. Electronic address:
INVASE - Hospital Beneficência Portuguesa de São José do Rio Preto, Vascular Surgery, São José do Rio Preto, SP, Brazil.
SONOCOR- Hospital Beneficência Portuguesa de São José do Rio Preto, Cardiology, São José do Rio Preto, SP, Brazil.
Franca University, Franca, SP, Brazil.
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, Vascular Surgery, São Paulo, SP, Brazil; Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Division, São Paulo University Medical School, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



Duplex ultrasonography (DUS), although consolidated as the primary tool for the estimation of carotid stenosis, may be impaired by calcified plaques that promote acoustic shadow (AcS). AcS seems to hamper the quantification of the main parameter used in the determination of percentage stenosis, that is, the maximal peak systolic velocity (PSV) at the lesion site. The aim of our study was to compare the degrees of carotid artery stenosis in DUS/PSV and computed tomography angiography (CTA) in the presence of AcS.


During 36 months, 1,178 carotid DUS tests were performed. A total of 164 carotids in 139 patients showed AcS resulting from calcified plaques. Carotids with AcS were referred for a second imaging examination; thus, 62 carotids were analyzed by both DUS/PSV and CTA. CTA measured the area reduction at the lesion site to calculate the percent stenosis. PSV was measured immediately after the end of the AcS. According to velocities-based DUS criteria, stenoses were classified as mild (PSV < 125 cm/s), moderate (125 ≤ PSV ≤ 230 cm/s), and severe (PSV > 230). CTA and DUS/PSV measurements were compared to determine the accuracy of PSV in characterizing the severity of carotid stenosis with AcS.


Of the 62 lesions, PSV characterized 10 as severe, 21 as moderate, and 31 as mild. According to the CTA study, there were 36 severe, 8 moderate, and 18 mild lesions. PSV underestimated in 27.79% the incidence of cases of severe carotid artery stenosis detected by the CTA. In addition, PSV overestimated the incidence of the cases of moderate and mild stenosis in 61.91% and 37.78%, respectively. The agreement ratio between the imaging examinations used in this study was 50%. DUS/PSV discretely correlated with CTA (r = 0.668, P < 0.0001, 95% confidence interval = 0.502-0.786). Using PSVs >125 and >230 as predictors of carotid lesions higher than 50% and 70%, respectively, the sensitivities were 63.3% and 27.8%, the specificities were 100%, the positive predictive values were 100%, and the negative predictive values were 71.9% and 50%.


PSV alone is inadequate to quantify carotid stenosis in the presence of calcified plaques and AcS. Another image tool, such as CTA, could be recommendable for clinical decision-making.


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