Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica     
Gianicolo M. E., Gianicolo E. A. L., Tramacere F., Andreassi M. G., Portaluri M. Effects of external irradiation of the neck region on intima media thickness of the common carotid artery. In: Cardiovascular Ultrasound, vol. 19 (8) article n. 8. BiomedCentral, 2010.
Background: Several studies have shown that common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is increased after radiotherapy (RT) to the head and neck. However, further studies are needed to define the exact mechanism of radiation-induced injury in large vessels, investigate the relationship between radiation dose and large vessel injury and evaluate the rate of progress of atherosclerosis in irradiated vessels. Objectives: To investigate whether external irradiation to the carotid area has any effect on IMT of the common carotid artery in a group of patients who received RT vs control group matched for age, gender and race. Methods: We studied 19 patients (10 male; 47.8 17.4 years) during a 5-month period (January 2009-July 2009); they had completed RT with a mean of 2.9 years before (range: 1 month-6 years) The mean radiation dose to the neck in the irradiated patients was 41.2 15.6 Gy (range: 25-70 Gy). Common carotid IMT was measured with echo-color Doppler. Nineteen healthy adult patients (10 male; 47.8 17.6) were recruited as a control group. Results: IMT was not significantly higher in patients when compared to the control group (0.59 0.16 vs 0.56 0.16 mm, p = 0.4). There was no significant difference between the two groups in relation to the absence (p = 0.7) or presence (p = 0.6) of vascular risk factors. Although the difference did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.1), the irradiated young patients (age ! 52 years) had IMT measurements higher (0.54 0.08 mm) than the nonirradiated young patients (0.49 0.14 mm). The mean carotid IMT increased with increasing doses of radiation to the neck (p = 0.04). Conclusion: This study shows that increased IMT of the common carotid artery after RT is radiation-dose-related. Therefore it is important to monitor IMT, which can be used as an imaging biomarker for early diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease in patients who have had radiotherapy for treatment of cancer of the head and neck and who are at increased risk for accelerated atherosclerosis in carotid arteries.
URL: http://www.cardiovascularultrasound.com/content/8/1/8
Subject IMT, radiation dose

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