Ultrasonics 2019 Apr 11;96:48-54. Epub 2019 Apr 11.
Medical Physics, Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK.
Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate whether clinically used ultrasonic contrast agents improved the accuracy of spectral Doppler ultrasound in the detection of low grade (<50%) renal artery stenosis. Low grade stenoses in the renal artery are notoriously difficult to reliably detect using Doppler ultrasound due to difficulties such as overlying fat and bowel gas.
Methods: A range of anatomically-realistic renal artery phantoms with varying low degrees of stenosis (0, 30 and 50%) were constructed and peak velocity data was measured from within the pre-stenotic and mid-stenotic regions in each phantom, for both unenhanced and contrast-enhanced spectral Doppler data acquisitions. The effect of a 20 mm overlying fat layer on the ultrasound beam distortion and phase aberration, and hence on the measured peak velocity data, was also investigated.
Results: The overlying fat layer produced a statistically significant underestimation (p < 0.01) in both the peak velocity and peak velocity ratio [Stenotic Region(Vmax)/Pre-stenotic Region(Vmax)] for the 0% and 30% stenosis models, but not the 50% model. A statistically significant increase (p < 0.01) in the peak velocity was found in the contrast-enhanced Doppler spectra; however, no significant difference was found between the unenhanced and contrast enhanced peak velocity ratio data, which suggests that the ratio metric has better diagnostic accuracy. The peak velocity ratios determined for each of the contrast-enhanced phantoms correctly predicted if the phantom had a stenosis and furthermore correctly classified the degree of stenosis.
Conclusion: Contrast-enhanced Doppler ultrasound could significantly assist in the early detection of renal artery disease.