Researchers from Brazil and Canada will report that a combination of two forms of ultrasound -- transcranial Doppler ultrasound and duplex carotid ultrasound -- can accurately measure the degree of blockage in the carotid arteries that serve the brain.
Assessing the extent of blockage is an important step in deciding whether an operation is needed to remove the blockage in those who are at risk of stroke, the leading cause of disability in the United States.
But cerebral angiography, the current method which uses dyes in the blood to assess blockage before deciding whether to operate, can itself provoke a stroke. This new method would reduce the need for cerebral angiography and the risk that goes with it.
Dr. Roberto Hirsch of Sao Paulo University Medical School in Brazil will report the findings on August 14 at International Neurosonology 97, an international medical conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. to review the latest use of ultrasound on the brain. The conference is being sponsored by the World Federation of Neurology and the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University.
Stroke, sometimes called "brain attack," kills about 150,000 people in the United States each year and is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. When not fatal, stroke can leave brain functions impaired. About 500,000 people suffer strokes each year.
A major cause of stroke is arteriosclerosis, or hardening, of the
carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain. As we age, a plaque of fat,
calcium deposits and blood clotting material can form on the inner lining of the
arteries, impeding the flow of blood to the brain. Stroke occurs when a piece of
this plaque break
Contact: Robert Conn or Mark Wright
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center