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Title: Carotid ultrasound for stroke prediction
Author: Thapar, Ankur
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 0195
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2013
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Introduction: The aims of this thesis were to identify if carotid endarterectomy was cost-effective and affordable in the United Kingdom and secondly to explore the potential of contrast enhanced ultrasound and plaque texture analysis for risk stratification in asymptomatic patients with carotid atherosclerosis. Methods: A cost-utility analysis based on results from the Asymptomatic Carotid Surgery Trial was performed using a Markov transition state model. Three cross-sectional studies of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with 50-99% carotid stenosis were performed for late phase and dynamic phase contrast enhanced ultrasound, followed by plaque texture analysis. Results: There was a high probability of surgical endarterectomy lying under the £20-30, 000 per quality adjusted life year National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence acceptability threshold in the United Kingdom. In men under 75 years of age, the cost per quality adjusted life year gained was lower and in women there was improved effectiveness with reduced long-term costs. Late phase contrast enhanced ultrasound imaging of carotid atherosclerosis suffered from a tissue suppression artefact which limited its ability to image microbubble retention. Quantification of plaque perfusion using low mechanical index imaging demonstrated a pseudoenhancement phenomenon from non-linear propagation, which artificially increased far wall intensity, again limiting its use for quantification of plaque perfusion. Semi-quantitative grading of plaque perfusion revealed no significant difference in generalised plaque perfusion between symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, however detection of ulceration using dynamic contrast enhanced ultrasound showed a trend towards an association with symptomatic status. Type II plaque showed a significant independent association with symptomatic status. Conclusion: Carotid endarterectomy is likely to be cost-effective in those under 75 years of age, particularly women. However, without further selection, the upfront costs and high number needed to treat with endarterectomy limit its potential as a large scale strategy. Improvements in non-linear pulse sequencing are required before quantitative contrast enhanced ultrasound can reliably be used for functional imaging of carotid atherosclerosis. Qualitative assessment of plaque perfusion is unlikely to gain widespread use due to its high subjectivity. However assessment of plaque type and to a lesser extent imaging of ulceration using contrast enhanced ultrasound are promising and reproducible imaging biomarkers for further study. Validation of these markers with histology and then prospective study of individuals with these plaque phenotypes is proposed. In the future individuals with a recent transient ischaemic attack and moderate (50-69%) stenosis may prove to be an ideal group for risk stratification.
Supervisor: Leen, Edward ; Davies, Alun Sponsor: Royal College of Surgeons of England ; Heart and Stroke Association ; Circulation Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral