Source of microembolic signals in patients with high-grade carotid stenosis

Jacinda L. Stork, Kazumi Kimura, Christopher R. Levi, Brian R. Chambers, Anne L. Abbott, Geoffrey A. Donnan

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47 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose - In patients with both symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid artery stenoses, the relationship between carotid plaque characteristics and transcranial Doppler (TCD)-detected microembolic signals (MES) is unclear. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between macroscopically described plaque characteristics and MES in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. Methods - Sequential patients scheduled for carotid endarterectomy underwent preoperative 30-minute TCD monitoring of the ipsilateral middle cerebral artery to detect MES. TCD signal analysis, by researchers who were blinded to patient information, was performed offline. Clinical variables of patients and macroscopic carotid plaque features seen at surgery were documented prospectively. Results - Of the 109 patients (74 male, 35 female; mean age, 68.8±8.7 years) enrolled, 71 had ipsilateral carotid territory symptoms. MES were detected in 27 of all patients (25%). Twenty-two of 71 symptomatic patients (31%) compared with 5 of 38 asymptomatic patients (13%) had MES (P=0.046). Also, symptomatic patients had more emboli (total MES counts) than asymptomatic patients (P=0.010). The presence or absence of MES was not associated with plaque characteristics. Conclusions - Our data do not confirm previous reports of an association between MES and macroscopic plaque characteristics. We hypothesize that smaller platelet aggregates and fibrin clots, which are not detected macroscopically, are the most likely sources of TCD-detected MES.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2014-2018
Number of pages5
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Carotid stenosis
  • Middle cerebral artery
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, transcranial

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