Value of ultrasonographic contrast in duplex scanning of leg arteries. Comparison with conventional duplex scanning and arteriography
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Aim. Duplex scanning has been used in the evaluation of the aorta and proximal arteries of the lower extremities, but has limitations in evaluating the arteries of the leg. The utilization of ultrasonographic contrast (USC) may be helpful in improving the quality of the image in these arteries. The objective of the present study was to verify whether the USC increases the diagnostic accuracy of patency of the leg arteries and if it diminishes the time needed to perform duplex scanning. Methods. Twenty patients with critical ischemia (20 lower extremities) were examined by standard duplex scanning, duplex scanning with contrast and digital subtraction arteriography (DSA). The 3 arteries of the leg were divided into 3 segments, for a total of 9 segments per limb. Each segment was evaluated for patency in order to compare the 3 diagnostic methods. Comparison was made between standard duplex scanning and duplex scanning with contrast in terms of quality of the color-coded Doppler signal and of the spectral curve, and also of the time to perform the exams. Results. Duplex scanning with contrast was similar to arteriography in relation to patency diagnosis (p>0.3) and even superior in some of the segments. Standard duplex scanning was inferior to arteriography and to duplex scanning with contrast (p<0.001). There were improvements of 70% in intensity of the color-coded Doppler signal and 76% in the spectral curve after the utilization of contrast. The time necessary to perform the examinations was 23.7 minutes for standard duplex scanning and 16.9 minutes for duplex scanning with contrast (p<0.001). Conclusion. The use of ultrasonographic contrast increased the accuracy of the diagnosis of patency of leg arteries and diminished the time necessary for the execution of duplex scanning.
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