Do Carotid Plaque Ulcers Heal? Potential Detection of Carotid Artery Plaque Healing by Carotid Ultrasound Imaging

Marialaura Simonetto, Sushrut Dharmadhikari, Ari Bennett, Nelly Campo, Negar Asdaghi, Jose Romano, Sebastian Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Carotid plaque ulcers confer an increased risk for stroke/ transient ischemic attacks in both symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis. Little is known about the healing rates of ulcers or the development of new ulcers. Carotid Duplex studies are noninvasive and easily repeatable tests to monitor progression of carotid stenosis and plaque morphology. Our aim was to determine the prevalence and healing rates of ultrasound-detected carotid plaque ulcers. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 5837 carotid Duplex studies performed in an outpatient ultrasound laboratory affiliated with the neurological department of an academic center. A total of 3215 patients underwent a first carotid ultrasound Duplex study, and 2622 follow-up studies were done. Carotid ulcer was defined as a 2 mm deep surface indentation in a carotid plaque with a well-defined back wall, as determined by multimodal ultrasound imaging techniques. Results: The prevalence of carotid plaque ulcers among the 3215 patients with a first ultrasound study was 3% (82/3215). The mean follow-up was 42 ± 30 months, and the median number of follow-up studies was 6. Among patients with ulcers, follow-up studies were available in 65/82 patients. During the follow-up period, 28/65 (43%) ulcers healed. Among all 2622 follow-up studies, 45 patients developed a new ulcer. Conclusions: Duplex-detected carotid plaque ulcer prevalence is low. The carotid ulcers healed in approximately half of patients during follow-up. Factors associated with ulcer healing and development remain poorly understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-980
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Neurosonology
  • carotid plaque ulcers
  • ulcerated carotid plaque healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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