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Can clinical evaluation and noninvasive testing substitute for arteriography in the evaluation of carotid artery disease?

By W S Moore, S Ziomek, W J Quiñones-Baldrich, H I Machleder, R W Busuttil and J D Baker


The objective of this study was to prospectively assess the value of combining clinical assessment and noninvasive testing in predicting the spectrum of carotid bifurcation pathology, as subsequently proven by arteriography, in order to determine the safety and accuracy of performing carotid endarterectomy without angiography. A panel of eight specialists representing vascular surgery, neurology, and neurosurgery were presented with the history, physical findings, and noninvasive test results (GEE-OPG and duplex scan) of 85 patients. They were asked to make an anatomic prediction of the status of each carotid artery (170 arteries) as to whether the bifurcation was normal, ulcerated, had a hemodynamically significant stenosis, or was occluded. The predictions were then prospectively evaluated and correlated with angiographic findings; 159 of 170 (93.5%) carotid arteries were accurately characterized; 73 of 80 (91%) symptomatic carotid arteries and 86 of 90 (95.5%) asymptomatic arteries were correctly characterized; 61 of 61 (100%) stenoses of hemodynamic significance, nine of 14 (64.3%) ulcerations without stenosis, and 18 of 18 (100%) of total occlusions were accurately identified by the panel. Twenty-nine patients have subsequently had 32 carotid endarterectomies without angiography, and the predicted lesion was confirmed at the time of exploration. The combination of clinical assessment and noninvasive testing, particularly duplex scanning, when performed in a laboratory with validated accuracy may with defined qualification be safely used as a substitute for contrast angiography

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