The purpose of this prospective study was to perform a head-to-head comparison of the two methods most frequently used for evaluation of carotid plaque characteristics: Multi-detector Computed Tomography Angiography (MDCTA) and black-blood 3 T-cardiovascular magnetic resonance (bb-CMR) with respect to their ability to identify symptomatic carotid plaques.
22 stroke unit patients with unilateral symptomatic carotid disease and >50% stenosis by duplex ultrasound underwent MDCTA and bb-CMR (TOF, pre- and post-contrast fsT1w-, and fsT2w- sequences) within 15 days of symptom onset. Both symptomatic and contralateral asymptomatic sides were evaluated. By bb-CMR, plaque morphology, composition and prevalence of complicated AHA type VI lesions (AHA-LT6) were evaluated. By MDCTA, plaque type (non-calcified, mixed, calcified), plaque density in HU and presence of ulceration and/or thrombus were evaluated. Sensitivity (SE), specificity (SP), positive and negative predictive value (PPV, NPV) were calculated using a 2-by-2-table.
To distinguish between symptomatic and asymptomatic plaques AHA-LT6 was the best CMR variable and presence / absence of plaque ulceration was the best CT variable, resulting in a SE, SP, PPV and NPV of 80%, 80%, 80% and 80% for AHA-LT6 as assessed by bb-CMR and 40%, 95%, 89% and 61% for plaque ulceration as assessed by MDCTA. The combined SE, SP, PPV and NPV of bb-CMR and MDCTA was 85%, 75%, 77% and 83%, respectively.
Bb-CMR is superior to MDCTA at identifying symptomatic carotid plaques, while MDCTA offers high specificity at the cost of low sensitivity. Results were only slightly improved over bb-CMR alone when combining both techniques.
Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)
Carotid Artery, Internal/diagnostic imaging*
Carotid Artery, Internal/pathology*
Carotid Stenosis/diagnostic imaging
Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
Multidetector Computed Tomography*
Predictive Value of Tests
Severity of Illness Index
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