Stroke is the most common neurologic disease and the third most common cause of death in the developed world. The root cause of most strokes is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a slow and progressive process that narrows the lumen of arteries with the build-up of plaque and scar and predicates the acute clotting crisis. The carotid arteries supply approximately 85% of the blood to the brain and significant levels of atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries present the highest single risk factor for stroke. Clinical symptoms of carotid insufficiency can be vague and there is a need for an inexpensive and non-invasive objective means to screen the at-risk population.
Doppler ultrasound can evaluate the luminal thickness and restrictions in the common carotid arteries up to and including the important bifurcation but not the internal carotid artery as it goes deep into the head. The superficial distribution of important branches of the internal carotid arteries in the face are easily evaluated with thermal imaging as a means to detect diminished blood flow in the common and internal carotid arteries and risk for stroke. Thermal imaging can detect hemodynamically significant stenosis of the carotid arteries with a very high sensitivity as compared to arteriography. Additionally, thermal imaging can also reveal indications of arterial compensation (natural bypasses) in the carotid artery networks that can be important to decisions in treatment. Thermal imaging is completely harmless, non-invasive, relatively inexpensive and quantitative.
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