Stroke is a serious and frequent cerebrovascular disease with an enormous socioeconomic burden worldwide. Stroke prevention includes treatment of carotid atherosclerosis, the most common underlying cause of stroke, according to a specific diagnostic algorithm. However, this diagnostic algorithm has proved insufficient for a large number of mostly asymptomatic subjects, which poses a significant research challenge of identifying novel personalized risk markers for the disease. This paper illustrates the potential of carotid ultrasound image analysis toward this direction, with ultrasound imaging being a low-cost and noninvasive imaging modality and ultrasound-image-based features revealing valuable information on plaque composition and stability. A concise report of state-of-the-art studies in the field is provided and a perspective for clinical scenario for optimal management of atherosclerotic patients is described. Challenges and necessary future steps toward the realization of this scenario are discussed in an attempt to urge and orient future research, and mainly include systematic applications to sufficiently large patient samples, appropriately designed longitudinal studies, confirmation with histological results, and clinical trials.
- Image analysis