AimTo evaluate the agreement between contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging and histopathology in an animal model of atherosclerosis.Methods and results: Atherosclerosis was studied in both femoral arteries of four Rapacz familial hypercholesterolaemia (RFH) swine. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging of the eight femoral arteries was performed at baseline and at 5, 12, 26, and 43 weeks follow-up after percutaneous transluminal stimulation of atherosclerosis to assess the progression of intima-media thickness (IMT) and the density and extent of the vasa vasorum network. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging allowed an early detection of atherosclerosis and showed a significant gradual progression of atherosclerosis over time. IMT increased from 0.22 ± 0.05 mm at baseline to 0.45 ± 0.06 mm (P < 0.001) at follow-up. The density of the vasa vasorum network increased during follow-up and was significantly higher in advanced than in early atherosclerosis. The findings with contrast-enhanced ultrasound were confirmed by histopathological specimens of the arterial wall.Conclusion: Contrast-enhanced ultrasound is effective for in vivo detection of vasa vasorum in atherosclerotic plaques in the RFH swine model. After stimulation of atherosclerosis, contrast-enhanced ultrasound demonstrated a significantly increased IMT and significantly increased density of the vasa vasorum network in the developing atherosclerotic plaque, which was validated by histology.

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European Journal of Echocardiography
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Schinkel, A., Krueger, C., Tellez, A., Granada, J., Reed, J., Hall, A., … Feinstein, S. (2010). Contrast-enhanced ultrasound for imaging vasa vasorum: Comparison with histopathology in a swine model of atherosclerosis. European Journal of Echocardiography, 11(8), 659–664. doi:10.1093/ejechocard/jeq048