Carotid Duplex Velocity Criteria Recommended by the Society of Radiologists in Ultrasound and Endorsed by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission Lack Predictive Ability for Identifying High-Grade Carotid Artery Stenosis.

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Publication Date



Cardiology; Surgery

Journal Title

Annals of vascular surgery

MeSH Headings

Blood Flow Velocity, Carotid Stenosis, Computed Tomography Angiography, Humans, Massachusetts, Predictive Value of Tests, Regional Blood Flow, Reproducibility of Results, Retrospective Studies, Severity of Illness Index, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex


BACKGROUND: Carotid duplex is the first-line imaging modality for characterizing degree of carotid stenosis. The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), in published guideline documents, has endorsed use of the Society of Radiologists in Ultrasound (SRU) criteria to characterize ≥70% stenosis: peak systolic velocity (PSV) ≥230 cm/s. We sought to perform a validation of the SRU criteria using computed tomography (CT) angiography as a gold standard imaging modality and to perform a sensitivity analysis to determine optimal velocity criteria for identifying ≥80% stenosis.

METHODS: We queried all carotid duplex examinations performed at our institution between 2008 and 2017. Patients with ≥70% carotid stenosis, based on previous criteria, were identified. Of these patients, those who also had a CT angiogram of the neck within one year formed the study cohort. Patients who underwent carotid revascularization between the 2 imaging dates were excluded. Degree of stenosis, as reported from the CT angiogram, was considered the true degree of stenosis. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were generated to evaluate the SRU criteria and to identify the optimal discrimination threshold for high-grade carotid stenosis.

RESULTS: Of 37,204 carotid duplex examinations, 3,478 arteries met criteria for ≥70% stenosis. Of these, 344 patients had a CT angiogram within 1 year of the carotid duplex (mean time between studies, 55 days, SD 6.5) and 240 (69.8%) were consistent with ≥80% carotid stenosis. The predictive ability of the SRU criteria to identify ≥70% stenosis was poor, with an area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.51. A sensitivity analysis to identify ≥80% stenosis demonstrated the optimal discrimination threshold to be PSV ≥450 cm/s or end diastolic velocity (EDV) ≥120 cm/s, with an AUC of 0.66.

CONCLUSIONS: In this validation study, the SRU criteria, endorsed by the IAC, to identify ≥70% carotid stenosis had no predictive value. For detection of ≥80% stenosis, the optimal criteria are a PSV ≥450 cm/s or EDV ≥120 cm/s. This study demonstrates the critical importance of carotid duplex examination validation.



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