Rupture, with subsequent thrombosis, of thin-cap fibroatheromas (TCFAs) is a major cause of myocardial infarction. A TCFA has two main components: these are a large, soft lipid pool and a thin, stiff fibrous cap covering it. Quantification of their morphology and stiffness is essential for monitoring atherosclerosis and quantifying the effect of plaque-stabilizing pharmaceutical treatment. To accomplish this, we have developed a model-based Young's modulus reconstruction method. From a plaque strain elastogram, measured with an intravascular ultrasound catheter, it reconstructs a Young's modulus image of the plaque. To this end, a minimization algorithm automatically varies the morphology and stiffness parameters of a TCFA computer model, until the corresponding computer-simulated strain elastogram resembles the measured strain elastogram. The morphology parameters of the model are the control-points of two deformable Bézier curves; one curve delineates the distal border of the lipid pool region, the other the distal border of the cap region. These component regions are assumed to be homogeneous and their stiffness is characterized by a Young's modulus. Reconstructions from strain elastograms that were 1. simulated using a histology-derived computer TCFA, 2. measured from a physical phantom with a soft lipid pool, and 3. simulated with a computer TCFA, where the complexity of its plaque component borders was increased, demonstrated the superior reconstruction/delineation behavior of this method, compared with a previously developed circular reconstruction method that used only circles for border delineation. Consequently, this method may become a valuable tool for the quantification of both the morphology and stiffness of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque components.

Atherosclerosis, Deformable curves, Finite element method, Intravascular ultrasound elastography, Inverse elasticity problem, Strain, Tissue characterization, Vulnerable plaque, Young's modulus,
Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology
Department of Cardiology

Baldewsing, R, Mastik, F, Schaar, J.A, Serruys, P.W.J.C, & van der Steen, A.F.W. (2006). Young's modulus reconstruction of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque components using deformable curves. Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, 32(2), 201–210. doi:10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2005.11.016