Background and Purpose - The detection of asymptomatic embolization with the use of Doppler ultrasound has a number of potential applications in patients with acute stroke. It may provide information on the stroke pathogenesis in individual cases, identify patients with continued embolization, and allow localization of the active embolic source. Methods - We recruited 119 patients with acute anterior circulation infarction within 72 hours of stroke onset. Transcranial Doppler recordings were possible in 100 (84.0%). Bilateral 1-hour middle cerebral artery (MCA) recordings were made and saved on digital audiotape for blinded offline analysis. When embolic signals were detected during screening of the first recording, simultaneous recording was performed from the ipsilateral MCA and common carotid artery for an additional 30 minutes. In all patients with embolic signals at screening and in matched negative controls, recordings were repeated on days 4, 7, and 14. Results - Embolic signals were detected in the symptomatic MCA in 16 patients (16%). They were more common in patients with carotid stenosis (P<0.0001), occurring in 50% of this group. They were rare in patients with cardioembolic stroke (4.5%) and were not detected in patients with lacunar stroke. In the 16 patients with embolic signals, the proportion with embolic signals fell over time (P=0.0025), but they were still present in a third at 2 weeks. In 10 patients, localization of the embolic source was possible by simultaneous recording from the MCA and the ipsilateral common carotid artery. Conclusions - Continued asymptomatic embolization is common after stroke in patients with carotid artery disease and is still present in a significant proportion at 2 weeks. The technique may identify patients at risk of further stroke for more aggressive antiplatelet therapy; this needs to be tested in large prospective studies. The technique may also allow localization of the active embolic source.
- Cerebral embolism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialised Nursing