Introduction ABCD2 risk score and cerebral microemboli detected by transcranial Doppler (TCD) have been separately shown to the predict risk of recurrent acute stroke. We studied whether ABCD2 risk score predicts cerebral microemboli in patients with hyper-acute symptomatic carotid artery stenosis.
Participants and methods We studied 206 patients presenting within 2 weeks of transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke and found to have critical carotid artery stenosis (≥50%). 86 patients (age 70±1 (SEM: years), 58 men, 83 Caucasian) had evidence of microemboli; 72 (84%) of these underwent carotid endarterectomy (CEA). 120 patients (age 72±1 years, 91 men, 113 Caucasian) did not have microemboli detected; 102 (85%) of these underwent CEA. Data were analysed using X2 and Mann–Whitney U tests and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.
Results 140/206 (68%: 95% CI 61.63 to 74.37) patients with hyper-acute symptomatic critical carotid stenosis had an ABCD2 risk score ≥4. There was no significant difference in the NICE red flag criterion for early assessment (ABCD2 risk score ≥4) for patients with cerebral microemboli versus those without microemboli (59/86 vs 81/120 patients: OR 1.05 ABCD2 risk score ≥4 (95% CI 0.58 to 1.90, p=0.867)). The ABCD2 risk score was <4 in 27 of 86 (31%: 95% CI 21 to 41) embolising patients and in 39 of 120 (31%: 95% CI 23 to 39) without cerebral microemboli. After adjusting for pre-neurological event antiplatelet treatment (APT), area under the curve (AUC) of ROC for ABCD2 risk score showed no prediction of cerebral microemboli (no pre-event APT, n=57: AUC 0.45 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.60, p=0.531); pre-event APT, n=147: AUC 0.51 (95% CI 0.42 to 0.60, p=0.804)).
Conclusions The ABCD2 score did not predict the presence of cerebral microemboli or carotid disease in over one-quarter of patients with symptomatic critical carotid artery stenosis. On the basis of NICE guidelines (refer early if ABCD2 ≥4), assessment of high stroke risk based on ABCD2 scoring may lead to inappropriate delay in urgent treatment in many patients.
CEH and CHEI are joint senior authors.
Contributors MS and DRJS conceived the study. All authors were responsible for the design and execution of the study. MS was responsible for data collection and data analysis. DRJS, CEH and CHEI are guarantors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval The prospective observational study was approved by the NHS Ethics Committee (MREC number 10/H1206/77) and Research & Development Department (R&D C1080610).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data are available.
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