Haemodynamic evaluation of carotid artery disease

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Cerebral ischaemia in the region of an internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis may be caused by embolism or cerebral hypoperfusion. A severe ICA stenosis may be well compensated by collateral blood supply, however, in some patients the capacity of the collateral blood supply is insufficient. Studies evaluating therapeutic modalities or natural history of carotid artery disease should therefore include a test capable of assessing cerebral haemodynamics. However, most studies, invasive as well as non-invasive, have focused on the ability of the test to diagnose the ICA lesions itself, rather than the haemodynamic changes induced by the stenosis. This paper reviews non-invasive methods for haemodynamic evaluation of carotid artery disease. Haemodynamic evaluation of ICA stenoses may be performed accurately by different techniques. Analysis of Doppler waveforms obtained distal to the ICA lesion and CBF reactivity tests may identify patients with severe reduction in ICA perfusion pressure. Periorbital Doppler examination and OPG identifies ICA lesions causing minor pressure gradients, however, they are unable to discriminate between minor and moderate to severe pressure reduction. Transcranial Doppler examination may prove to be useful in haemodynamic assessment of ICA stenoses, but, this remains to be evaluated. Presently, in addition to direct evaluation of the carotid arteries, we use a combination of periorbital Doppler examination and analysis of distal ICA waveforms. In cases of an ICA stenosis and orthograde flow any severe pressure reduction may be ruled out. In cases of inverted flow, analysis of distal ICA waveforms may identify patients with severe reduction in ICA perfusion pressure.


    • Brain Ischemia
    • Carotid Artery Diseases
    • Carotid Artery, Internal
    • Cerebrovascular Circulation
    • Hemodynamics
    • Humans
    • Plethysmography
    • Ultrasonography


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