Common carotid intima-media thickness measurement. A method to improve accuracy and precision.
High-resolution ultrasonographic imaging is a noninvasive method that allows estimation of the thickness of the intima-media complex in human carotid arteries. The determination of intima-media thickness involves several steps, each of which may introduce an error that influences the reproducibility of the method. In the present study, apart from the general reproducibility of the determination of intima-media thickness, the error introduced by each step was evaluated.
B-mode scans were performed on 14 randomly selected patients. The common carotid arteries were examined in anterior, lateral, and posterior planes, with a standard methodology and by a new method, making use of external reference points.
The error in general reproducibility in determination of the subject's mean intima-media thickness was 5.9%. This parameter was also evaluated in a paired manner after dividing the whole artery into sectors; with this protocol, the percent error in general reproducibility was 15%. The main source of variability in the evaluation of common carotid intima-media thickness was found to lie in the operator's subjectivity in the choice of the carotid sector to be processed (percent error, 10.27%). A method was therefore designed that used external reference points, resulting in reduction of this error by 38.2%.
While the mean intima-media thickness might be considered a reproducible parameter to evaluate differences between populations exposed to diverse risk factors, evolutional or therapy-induced changes in the individual may be better monitored on defined carotid sectors. This may be achieved with a high reproducibility by use of the proposed method based on external reference points.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association