Intravascular polarimetry with polarization sensitive optical frequency domain imaging (PS-OFDI) measures polarization properties of the vessel wall and offers characterization of coronary atherosclerotic lesions beyond the cross-sectional image of arterial microstructure available to conventional OFDI. A previous study of intravascular polarimetry in cadaveric human coronary arteries found that tissue birefringence and depolarization provide valuable insight into key features of atherosclerotic plaques. In addition to various tissue components, catheter and sample motion can also influence the polarization of near infrared light as used by PSOFDI. This study aimed to evaluate the robustness and repeatability of imaging tissue birefringence and depolarization in a clinical setting. 30 patients scheduled for percutaneous coronary intervention at the Erasmus Medical Center underwent repeated PS-OFDI pullback imaging, using commercial imaging catheters in combination with a custom-built PS-OFDI console. We identified 274 matching cross-sections among the repeat pullbacks to evaluate the reproducibility of the conventional backscatter intensity, the birefringence, and the depolarization signals at each spatial location across the vessel wall. Bland-Altman analysis revealed best agreement for the birefringence measurements, followed by backscatter intensity, and depolarization, when limiting the analysis to areas of meaningful birefringence. Pearson correlation analysis confirmed highest correlation for birefringence (0.86), preceding backscatter intensity (0.83), and depolarization (0.78). Our results demonstrate that intravascular polarimetry generates robust maps of tissue birefringence and depolarization in a clinical setting. This outcome motivates the use of intravascular polarimetry for future clinical studies that investigate polarization properties of arterial atherosclerosis.

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IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging

Villiger, P. M., Otsuka, K. (Kenichiro), Karanasos, A., Doradla, P. (Pallavi), Ren, J. (Jian), Lippok, N. (Norman), … Bouma, B. (2018). Repeatability assessment of intravascular polarimetry in patients. IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging. doi:10.1109/TMI.2018.2815979