J Ultrasound Med. 2022 Nov 2. doi: 10.1002/jum.16122. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the diagnostic value of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) and high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (HR-MRI) in patients with carotid vulnerable plaques.
METHODS: A systematic review was conducted in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science using the search terms carotid artery, atherosclerotic plaque, CEUS, contrast-enhanced ultrasound, HR-MRI, and high-resolution magnetic resonance. Studies published since the establishment of the library until December 2021 were retrieved. The statistical analyses were performed with Meta-DiSc version 1.4. Beyond that, the potential sources of heterogeneity for CEUS and HR-MRI were explored.
RESULTS: Nine articles were included in this study. For CEUS, the pooled sensitivity and specificity for detecting carotid vulnerable plaques 91% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 84%, 95%) and 67% (95% CI: 54%, 79%), respectively. For HR-MRI, the pooled sensitivity and specificity were 78% (95% CI: 72%, 83%) and 65% (95% CI, 56%, 73%), respectively. The area under the summary receiver operating characteristic curve for CEUS and HR-MRI were 0.9218 and 0.8129, respectively. However, the difference in diagnostic accuracy between CEUS and HR-MRI diagnostic accuracy was not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS: The study shows that the sensitivity of CEUS was higher than that of HR-MRI, and the specificity was similar to HR-MRI. CEUS and HR-MRI provide a similar diagnostic yield in detecting a vulnerable plaque. Thus, CEUS may be a useful tool for the diagnosis of carotid vulnerable plaques.