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Angle dependence of intravascular ultrasound imaging and its feasibility in tissue characterization of human atherosclerotic tissue.

  • Author(s): Hiro, T
  • Leung, CY
  • Karimi, H
  • Farvid, AR
  • Tobis, JM
  • et al.
Abstract

BACKGROUND:Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) images vary in intensity because of the angle of the transducer relative to the plaque. The purpose of this study was to determine the angle dependence of ultrasound backscatter when the IVUS transducer is aligned coaxially in atherosclerotic arteries and to examine its feasibility in tissue characterization of human atherosclerotic tissue. METHODS AND RESULTS:Thirty-nine noncalcified regions of interest (ROI, 0.4 to 0. 6 mm in diameter) within cross sections of formalin-fixed human iliac arterial plaque were imaged with a 3.9F, 25-MHz IVUS catheter in saline at room temperature. The catheter was moved coaxially from 8 to 16 positions and spanned 50 to 122 degrees relative to the ROI and the lumen center. Echo intensity for each ROI was defined as the videointensity relative to a standard reflector. The angle dependence of echo intensity was defined as the slope of the regression line between the angle of incidence and echo intensity. Each ROI was histologically classified into 4 groups: fibro-acellular (fibrous cap, n=7), fibro-cellular (n=9), fibro-fatty (n=13), or fatty tissue (n=10). The echo intensity of the majority (72%) of plaque components in IVUS images are significantly affected by the angle of incidence of the transducer. The angle dependence of fibro-acellular samples was significantly greater than that of the other 3 groups (4.69 +/- 3.29 x 10(-3) x echo intensity/degree vs 1.06 +/- 1.10 in fibro-cellular area, 2.09 +/- 1.75 in fibro-fatty area, and 2.16 +/- 1.92 in fatty area, P <. 05). CONCLUSIONS:The angle dependence of ultrasound reflections from the fibrous cap of atherosclerotic plaque is another method of tissue characterization in addition to spatial distribution and echo intensity. This technique may be useful in determining the thickness of the fibrous cap, which may be an important predictor of plaque rupture.

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