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Clinical utility of carotid and transcranial ultrasound in cerebrovascular diseases

Authors Figueiredo L, Zétola V, Lange M

Received 15 May 2014

Accepted for publication 5 June 2014

Published 20 August 2014 Volume 2014:2 Pages 67—74


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Lívia Figueiredo, Viviane F Zétola, Marcos C Lange

Neurology Division, Hospital de Clínicas, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil

Abstract: Carotid and transcranial (CTU) ultrasound is a useful tool in a number of clinical settings, particularly in cerebrovascular diseases. CTU is the only method that provides real-time determination of velocity and the spectral waveform of blood flow in the extracranial and basal intracranial arteries, and is effective in the detection of stenosis and occlusion. When transcranial ultrasound is considered, CTU is the only method that allows visualization of microembolic signals in the intracranial arteries. CTU makes a rapid differential diagnosis possible, improving therapeutic decision-making in acute stroke and determining the risk of recurrence and prognosis based on its findings. It is also the standard of care in children with sickle cell disease, when selecting patients for chronic blood transfusion, and for reducing the risk of ischemic stroke in these patients. CTU has some advantages, ie, relative simplicity in terms of interpretation and performance, and affordability, noninvasiveness, and portability. The main concern with ultrasound is that it is an operator-dependent tool and requires a high level of expertise and knowledge of three-dimensional cerebrovascular anatomy for correct interpretation of sonograms. The most significant limitation of intracranial evaluation by transcranial ultrasound is the absence of a suitable bone window in approximately 10% of patients. This paper gives an overview of the current utility and importance of CTU in the prevention and evaluation of ischemic cerebrovascular disease.

Keywords: transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, Doppler ultrasonography duplex, cerebrovascular disorders, stroke

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