Review Article

Ultrasound Evaluation of Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness: Effective Early Marker of Carotid Artery Disease in Adult Head and Neck Cancer Patients After Neck Radiation?

Whitney Randolph, APRN, and Joyce E. Dains, DrPH, JD, APRN, FNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP

From The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Authors’ disclosures of conflicts of interest are found at the end of this article.

Correspondence to: Whitney Randolph, APRN, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail: wsgalletly@mdanderson.org


J Adv Pract Oncol 2022;13(7):683–694 | https://doi.org/10.6004/jadpro.2022.13.7.4 | © 2022 Harborside™


  

ABSTRACT

Radiation is a recommended front-line treatment for many adult head and neck cancer (HNC) patients. Early identification of radiation-associated carotid artery disease (CAD), a well-known phenomenon, can minimize long-term sequelae. This integrative literature review assesses the use of ultrasound measured carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) as an early marker of CAD in adult HNC patients after neck radiation. A search of PubMed and Scopus databases in December 2020 yielded 475 unique articles published between January 2011 and December 2020, of which eight met inclusion criteria. Carotid IMT, measured by ultrasound, was significantly increased after neck radiation in all reviewed publications. Ultrasound was able to detect IMT measurements exceeding or at risk of exceeding pathologic IMT, indicating higher risk for future cardiovascular events. Findings suggest that radiation-associated carotid IMT increase occurs early and persists for years. Ultrasound adequately detects post-radiation carotid IMT changes and is a reliable early marker for radiation-associated CAD. Initiation of ultrasound screening should be considered prior to neck radiation for a baseline and at 1 year post treatment to optimize medical management.




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