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Paprottka, Karolin Johanna; Saam, Damiana; Rübenthaler, Johannes; Schindler, Andreas; Sommer, Nora Navina; Paprottka, Philipp Marius; Clevert, Dirk-André; Reiser, Maximilian; Saam, Tobias; Helck, Andreas (2017): Prevalence and distribution of calcified nodules in carotid arteries in correlation with clinical symptoms. In: Radiologia Medica, Vol. 122, No. 6: pp. 449-457
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Calcified nodules ("CN") are responsible for up to 5% of coronary-infarcts and, therefore, classified as minor criteria of "vulnerable" atherosclerotic plaque. We sought to evaluate prevalence and distribution of CN in carotid arteries in correlation with clinical symptoms. 178 consecutive patients with unilateral ischemic stroke and carotid plaques ae2 mm by duplex ultrasound underwent a carotid-black-blood-3T-MRI with fat-saturated pre- and post-contrast T1w-, PDw-, T2w- and TOF images using dedicated surface-coils. CN were defined as distinct calcification with an irregular, protruding, and convex luminal surface. Prevalence of CN was determined in common carotid artery ("CCA") and internal carotid artery ("ICA") in consensus by two reviewers blinded to clinical information. Thirty seven CN in 28 arteries of 26 patients were identified. Prevalence of CN in CCA compared to ICA was slightly higher (59 vs. 41%), but nearly similar in 66 arteries with ae30% compared to 290 arteries with < 30% stenosis (9.1 vs. 7.6%) and in the artery ipsilateral versus contralateral to stroke (7.9 vs. 7.9%;P values n.s.). Prevalence of CN was significantly higher in 40 symptomatic arteries with ae30% stenosis compared to asymptomatic 26 arteries (15.6 vs. 0%;P = 0.04). There was a significantly higher prevalence of hypercholesterolemia and hypertension in patients with CN (57.7 vs. 36.0 and 88.5 vs. 66.7%;P values < 0.05). CN were found in 7.9% of arteries with carotid-plaques ae2 mm by duplex-ultrasound;prevalence was significantly higher in symptomatic arteries with ae30% stenosis compared to asymptomatic with < 30% stenosis, suggesting that CN play a role in pathogenesis of ischemic stroke in a small subset of patients.