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BACKGROUND: Identifying internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis in the acute stroke setting can provide clinically useful information. Transcranial Doppler (TCD) through the orbital window is an easy test to perform and to track and identify different vessels. Previous TCD studies have suggested that a reversed ophthalmic artery (OA) flow is a useful collateral pattern to predict ICA disease. The authors sought to evaluate the TCD orbital window for predicting cervical ICA (cICA) stenosis in the setting of acute stroke and TIA. METHOD: Power M-mode/TCD was performed in acute stroke and transient ischemic attack patients at 2 institutions. Each orbital window depth was detected on M-mode and evaluated for the direction of flow and resistance pattern. Gold standard for comparison was carotid evaluation using carotid duplex, computed tomography angiogram, or conventional angiography. The assessment of cICA disease was categorized by degree of stenosis or occlusion. RESULTS: A total of 216 transorbital exams were performed in 117 patients. Twenty-five cICA occlusions and 8 critical cICA stenoses (>or=95%) were identified by gold standard imaging. Reversed OA flow at 50 to 60 mm depth revealed high specificity (100%; confidence interval [CI], 97.6%-100.0%) and good sensitivity (75%; CI, 53.3%-90.2%) for identifying cICA occlusion or critical stenosis (>or=95%). Low pulsatility index (<1.2) and mean flow velocity (<15 cm/s) discriminated critical severe ICA stenosis or occlusion when OA flow was anterograde with good sensitivity (87.2%) and specificity (95.2%). CONCLUSION: The reversed OA sign at 50 to 60 mm depth is very specific for identifying cICA occlusion or critical stenosis. When OA flow is anterograde, a low mean flow velocity or pulsatility index is also useful to identify cICA critical stenosis or occlusion.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neuroimaging

Publication Date





138 - 143


Carotid Artery, Internal, Carotid Stenosis, Cerebral Angiography, Humans, Ischemic Attack, Transient, Ophthalmic Artery, Orbit, Point-of-Care Systems, Pulsatile Flow, Regional Blood Flow, Sensitivity and Specificity, Stroke, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex, Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial, Vascular Resistance