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Hybrid intravascular imaging: recent advances, technical considerations, and current applications in the study of plaque pathophysiology


Cumulative evidence from histology-based studies demonstrate that the currently available intravascular imaging techniques have fundamental limitations that do not allow complete and detailed evaluation of plaque morphology and pathobiology, limiting the ability to accurately identify high-risk plaques. To overcome these drawbacks, new efforts are developing for data fusion methodologies and the design of hybrid, dual-probe catheters to enable accurate assessment of plaque characteristics, and reliable identification of high-risk lesions. Today several dual-probe catheters have been introduced including combined near infrared spectroscopy-intravascular ultrasound (NIRS-IVUS), that is already commercially available, IVUS-optical coherence tomography (OCT), the OCT-NIRS, the OCT-near infrared fluorescence (NIRF) molecular imaging, IVUS-NIRF, IVUS intravascular photoacoustic imaging and combined fluorescence lifetime-IVUS imaging. These multimodal approaches appear able to overcome limitations of standalone imaging and provide comprehensive visualization of plaque composition and plaque biology. The aim of this review article is to summarize the advances in hybrid intravascular imaging, discuss the technical challenges that should be addressed in order to have a use in the clinical arena, and present the evidence from their first applications aiming to highlight their potential value in the study of atherosclerosis.

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