Detection of carotid artery plaques in the dental setting


It has been suggested that atherosclerotic plaques can be visualized in a panoramic radiograph but this tool is not reliable for systematic screening of patients due to its low sensitivity. This study investigated the potential role for dental practitioners in using an ultra- sound machine to detect carotid artery plaques. 100 subjects completed a survey concerning theirathero-sclerosis risk factors. Bilateral images and digital video clips of the carotid arteries of each person were obtained with a portable high-resolution ultrasound device equipped with an L38/10-5 MHz linear-array transducer. Images were subsequently interpreted. We found images suggestive of atherosclerotic plaque build-up in two Caucasian females: one 59 year-old with risk factors including: past smoker, high choles- terol, and family history of atherosclerosis and one 54 year-old with risk factors including: past smoker, overweight, and reported no physical activity. Both individuals were referred to their primary care providers for further assessments. 2% of the patient adult population may have carotid blockages detectable by ultrasound. The frequency can be as high as 5.5% in individuals older than 50. In the dental setting, ultrasound imaging can be used to capture bilateral pictures of the carotid arteries. With these images, at-risk patients may be screened for atherosclerotic plaques that could ultimately form a stroke-causing embolus. The dentist is particularly well suited for this role because he/she sees patients every six months while a physician can go years without seeing his/her patients.

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Vieira, A. and Babb, L. (2012) Detection of carotid artery plaques in the dental setting. Open Journal of Stomatology, 2, 136-139. doi: 10.4236/ojst.2012.22024.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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