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Kinking, coiling, and tortuosity of extracranial internal carotid artery: is it the effect of a metaplasia?

  • Autori: LA BARBERA, G.; LA MARCA, G.; Martino, A.; LO VERDE, R.; Valentino, F.; Lipari, D.; Peri, G.; Cappello, F.; Valentino, B.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2006
  • Tipologia: Articolo su rivista (Articolo in rivista)


INTRODUCTION: Morphological anomalies of the extracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) cause symptomatic cerebrovascular insufficiency in 4-16% of the cases. The aim of the present study is to evaluate macroscopic and microscopic features of a group of extracranial ICA anomalies, specifically kinking, coiling, and tortuosity, eventually affecting the surgical approach. MATERIALS AND METHODS: From January 2003 to December 2005, 10 out of 169 (6%) revascularized patients (pts) were operated upon because of an ICA anomaly. They were all but two symptomatics. Seven pts were treated by ICA transection and end-to-side reimplantation of the ICA at the level of the carotid bulb; three pts were treated by ICA resection and end-to-end anastomosis. In all the cases a segment of ICA was resected; in three cases one more segment was also obtained from a common carotid artery (CCA) and these specimens were histologically examined. Patients were followed-up through a 3-year period. RESULTS: No pts died and none suffered of neurologic events. Duplex scan and arteriographic postoperative control showed the correct surgical reconstruction. Matching preoperative clinical findings with presence or absence of significant atherosclerotic stenotic lesion, we found out a positive cerebral CT in one pt (20%) in both groups; fluent neurological deficit was preeminent in pts with pure ICA anomalies (40% vs. 0%) (P = 0.2); pts with pure ICA anomalies were significantly younger than 65 years old (80% vs. 0%) (P = 0.03) and males were more involved by pure ICA anomalies (60% vs. 40%) (P = 0.1). The histological examination of ICA specimens showed a reduction of elastic fibers and muscular cells with a compensative increase of connective fibers. CONCLUSIONS: At our knowledge this is the first study focused on ICA anomalies like kinking, coiling, and tortuosity, comparing histologic features of CCA and ICA specimens coming from the same affected carotid axis. Our results, although preliminary, show elastic and muscular tissue substituted by loose connective tissue, configuring a metaplasia of tunica media limited to the ICA. Our hypothesis is that extracranial ICA, being a segment of transition between an elastic vessel (CCA) and a muscular vessel (intracranial ICA), is particularly subject to metaplastic transformation, analogously to other transition zones in human body. Our purpose is now to confirm by ultrastructural and molecular biology techniques, in a wider series, the presence of this metaplasia, since this could condition also the revascularization techniques.