Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the western world and in 70% of patients it is associated with atherosclerotic disease of the carotid artery. Imaging of the epiaortic vessels is of great importance in screening, evaluating therapeutic indications and for the follow-up of these patients.
The diagnostic imaging techniques used to evaluate this patient were: multidetector angio-CT, which showed a plaque with parietal calcifications at the right carotid bifurcation, causing a moderate-grade stenosis of the vessel; angio-MRI, which showed a high-grade stenosis (in contrast with the CT findings), but was inferior in the detection of the parietal calcifications; and DSA of the epiaortic vessels, performed thorough selective catheterisation of the common carotid, which confirmed the CT findings of a moderate-grade stenosis at the origin of the right internal carotid.
Analysing the findings obtained with these different techniques, the spiral multidetector CT seems to offer real advantages for the characterisation of the atherosclerotic plaque morphology and to suggest the most appropriate therapeutic indication for every patient. Furthermore, CT examination was able to detect the presence of calcification and the irregular morphology of the plaque, which were not seen with the other techniques, thus demonstrating the superiority of spiral multidetector row angio-CT in the study of atherosclerotic plaques.