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Carotid body (CB) denervation is emerging as a novel treatment for hypertension, but how to screen patients with CB hyperactivity is needed to be addressed. CB enlargement has strong association with its activity, and may be served as a promising predictor. This study was aimed to investigate the feasibility of using high-frequency ultrasonography to image CB and identify the relationship between the CB volume and hypertension as well as other comorbidities.
CBs were detected by ultrasonography in four fresh carotid specimens and were confirmed by histopathology examination. The bilateral CBs of patients were detected and measured with carotid ultrasonography in transverse and longitudinal planes. CB volume and its association with comorbidities were estimated.
The CB, characterized by an oval, hypoechoic structure, was detected in all four carotid specimens. A total of 1226 consecutive patients received carotid ultrasonography. The overall detectable rate of CB was 78.7% (965/1226). The right and left CBs were detected in 65.3% (800 /1226) and 64.3% (788/1226) of patients respectively. Bilateral CBs were identified in 50.9% (624/1226) of patients. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses indicated that hypertension (HTN), chronic heart failure (CHF), chronic lung disease (CLD), smoking and high body mass index were positively associated with increased CB volume. Compared with controls (2.63 mm3), CB volume was significantly elevated in simple HTN (3.12 mm3, P<0.001), simple CHF (3.27 mm3, P=0.009) and simple smoking (3.42 mm3, P<0.001) groups.
In conclusion, carotid ultrasonography is an effective and high-quality approach to image and assess CB in clinical practice. CB enlargement is positively associated with HTN and some other comorbidities and may be used to preselect the appropriate patients for CB modulation therapy.