The purpose of this study was to develop a new biomechanical index for assessing the elastic characteristics of carotid plaques and to test the association between carotid plaque elasticity and ischemic cerebrovascular events (ICEs).
One hundred and eighteen carotid plaques were detected with real-time three-dimensional ultrasonography
in 104 patients. All patients received MRI and were divided into two groups according to the history of ICEs: patients with ICEs (n
= 58, including 20 patients with transient ischemic attack and 38 with ischemic stroke) and patients without ICEs (n
= 46). The carotid plaque volume
at end diastole (Vd) and end systole (Vs) was measured by use of a TomTec (Munich, Germany) workstation. Plaque volume
compression ratio (VCR) was calculated as (Vd − Vs)/Vd × 100 and the reproducibility of VCR measurement was analyzed. The carotid intima–media thickness, plaque area and plaque acoustic density were also measured. Multivariate logistic regression was used to test the association between ICEs and plaque ultrasonic parameters or traditional risk factors including age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, history of coronary heart disease, levels of serum low-density lipoprotein, triglyceride and glucose.
Satisfactory images of carotid plaques were obtained in all patients by real-time three-dimensional ultrasonography
. Patients with ICEs and patients without ICEs differed significantly in VCR (22.19 ± 8.42 vs. 13.95 ± 7.86, P
< 0.01). Regression analysis revealed that systolic blood pressure, [odds ratio (OR) = 1.054, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.028–1.081, P
< 0.001] and VCR (OR = 1.074, 95% CI = 1.022–1.128, P
< 0.001) were associated with ICEs independently. Plaque volume
had only a marginal association with ICEs (OR = 1.007, 95% CI = 1.000–1.013, P
Measurement of VCR provides a noninvasive approach to the evaluation of the elasticity of carotid plaques, which is associated independently with ICEs. Thus, real-time three-dimensional ultrasonography
-derived VCR holds a great potential in identifying patients with high risk of ICEs.