Variability of a three-layered appearance in intravascular ultrasound coronary images: a comparison of morphometric measurements with four intravascular ultrasound systems.
The purpose of the study was to compare four intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) machines in vitro for their image representation of coronary arterial walls. There has been considerable variability among reported studies on the accuracy of morphometric measurements of coronary arteries by IVUS. This variability may be caused in part by the difference in the IVUS system used. A total of 24 formalin-fixed coronary arteries were imaged in saline at 37 degrees with four different IVUS systems. The images were interpreted independently and compared with histology. Each system had benefits and limitations: System 1 overestimated the lumen area and had difficulty in identifying the media; System 2 underestimated the media area, but had a lower positive bias for lumen area; System 3 overestimated the lumen area but more clearly identified tissue characteristics such as internal elastic membrane and the echolucent media zone which improved the likelihood of observing a three-layer appearance; and System 4 showed less distinct separation of the arterial components and had poor correlations with histology for media measurements. The ability to make accurate morphometric measurements from IVUS images depends on the clarity of the separation of plaque and media. Among the four systems studied, there is significant variability in the appearance of the ultrasound images and the accuracy of morphometric measurements. These system differences should be considered when comparing IVUS studies performed by different groups.