Background and PurposeMeasurements of intimal-medial thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery by B-mode ultrasonography are widely used as markers of atherosclerosis. This report describes empirical features of these measurements to characterize their distribution within arterial wall segments, to explore their potential as study outcome measures, and to examine their links with traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. MethodsSequential transverse measurements of IMT in the carotid arteries were made in 899 participants from the Asymptomatic Carotid Artery Progression Study (ACAPS) at baseline. Data from 17 intrasegment sites in each of 12 arterial wall segments were used to describe patterns of thickness and visualization and to characterize cross-sectional area, severity, and roughness/irregularity by the intrasegment averages, maxima, and SDs of IMT, respectively. ResultsSerial correlations of IMT measurements indicated localized and diffuse features of disease. The spatial distribution of IMT had two dominant features: overall mass and mass relative to roughness. The validity of these features was demonstrated by their correlation to known risk factors for carotid atherosclerosis: body mass index, age, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, smoking, and sex. ConclusionsBoth the mean and maxima of intrasegment measurements appear to be good candidates for use in clinical studies. B-mode ultrasonography has validity for the description of IMT roughness and shape. Both of these features are linked to cardiovascular risk factors, which supports the multifaceted nature of atherosclerosis. © 1994 American Heart Association, Inc.