Comparison of carotid plaque ulcer detection using contrast- enhanced and time-of-flight MRA techniques

M. Etesami, Y. Hoi, D. A. Steinman, S. K. Gujar, A. E. Nidecker, B. C. Astor, A. Portanova, Y. Qiao, W. M A Abdalla, B. A. Wasserman

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17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Ulceration in carotid plaque is a risk indicator for ischemic stroke. Our aim was to compare plaque ulcer detection by standard TOF and CE-MRA techniques and to identify factors that influence its detection. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Carotid MR imaging scans were acquired on 2066 participants in the ARIC study. We studied the 600 thickest plaques. TOF-MRA, CE-MRA, and black-blood MR images were analyzed together to define ulcer presence (plaque surface niche ≥2mmin depth). Sixty ulcerated arteries were detected. These arteries were randomly assigned, along with 40 nonulcerated plaques from the remaining 540, for evaluation of ulcer presence by 2 neuroradiologists. Associations between ulcer detection and ulcer characteristics, including orientation, location, and size, were determined and explored by CFD modeling. RESULTS: One CE-MRA and 3 TOF-MRAs were noninterpretable and excluded. Of 71 ulcers in 56 arteries, readers detected an average of 39 (55%) on both TOF-MRA and CE-MRA, 26.5 (37.5%) only on CE-MRA, and 1 (1.5%) only on TOF-MRA, missing 4.5 (6%) ulcers by both methods. Ulcer detection by TOF-MRA was associated with its orientation (distally pointing versus perpendicular: OR = 5.57 [95% CI, 1.08 -28.65]; proximally pointing versus perpendicular: OR=0.21 [95% CI, 0.14-0.29]); location relative to point of maximum stenosis (distal versus isolevel: OR=5.17 [95% CI, 2.10 -12.70]); and neck-to-depth ratio (OR=1.96 [95% CI, 1.11-3.45]) after controlling for stenosis and ulcer volume. CONCLUSIONS: CE-MRA detects more ulcers than TOF-MRA in carotid plaques. Missed ulcers on TOF-MRA are influenced by ulcer orientation, location relative to point of maximum stenosis, and neck-to-depth ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this

Etesami, M., Hoi, Y., Steinman, D. A., Gujar, S. K., Nidecker, A. E., Astor, B. C., Portanova, A., Qiao, Y., Abdalla, W. M. A., & Wasserman, B. A. (2013). Comparison of carotid plaque ulcer detection using contrast- enhanced and time-of-flight MRA techniques. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 34(1), 177-184.