Carotid plaque volume in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. BJS 2018; 105: 262-269.

Published: 8th January 2018

Authors: S. Ball, S. Rogers, K. Kanesalingam, R. Taylor, E. Katsogridakis, C. McCollum et al.


The main indication for carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is severity of carotid artery stenosis, even though most strokes in carotid disease are embolic. The relationship between carotid plaque volume (CPV) and symptoms of cerebral ischaemia, and the measurement of CPV by minimally invasive tomographic ultrasound imaging, were investigated.


The volume of the endarterectomy specimen was measured using a validated saline suspension technique in patients undergoing CEA. Time from last symptom and severity of stenosis measured by duplex ultrasonography were recorded. Middle cerebral artery emboli were counted using transcranial Doppler imaging (TCD) in a subset of patients.


Some 339 patients were included, 270 with symptomatic and 69 with asymptomatic carotid stenosis. Mean(s.d.) CPV was higher in symptomatic than in asymptomatic patients (0·97(0·43) versus 0.74(0·41) cm3; P < 0·001). CPV did not correlate with severity of carotid stenosis (P = 0·770). Mean CPV was highest at 1·03(0·46) cm3 in the 4 weeks following cerebral symptoms, declining to 0·78(0·36) cm3 beyond 8 weeks. Among 33 patients who had TCD, mean CPV was 1·00(0·48) cm3 in the 27 patients with ipsilateral cerebral emboli compared with 0·67(0·16) cm3 in those without (P = 0·142). There was excellent correlation between CPV measured by tomographic ultrasound imaging and the endarterectomy specimen in 34 patients (r = 0·93, P < 0·001).


CPV correlated with symptoms of cerebral ischaemia, but not carotid stenosis. It could be a potential indicator for CEA.

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