BACKGROUND: The composition of plaque is a major determinant of coronary-related clinical syndromes. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) elastography has proven to be a technique capable of reflecting the mechanical properties of phantom material and the femoral arterial wall. The aim of this study was to investigate the capability of intravascular elastography to characterize different plaque components. METHODS AND RESULTS: Diseased human femoral (n=9) and coronary (n=4) arteries were studied in vitro. At each location (n=45), 2 IVUS images were acquired at different intraluminal pressures (80 and 100 mm Hg). With the use of cross-correlation analysis on the high-frequency (radiofrequency) ultrasound signal, the local strain in the tissue was determined. The strain was color-coded and plotted as an additional image to the IVUS echogram. The visualized segments were stained on the presence of collagen, smooth muscle cells, and macrophages. Matching of elastographic data and histology were performed with the use of the IVUS echogram. The cross sections were segmented in regions (n=125) that were based on the strain value on the elastogram. The dominant plaque types in these regions (fibrous, fibro-fatty, or fatty) were obtained from histology and correlated with the average strain and echo intensity. The strain for the 3 plaque types as determined by histology differed significantly (P=0.0002). This difference was mainly evident between fibrous and fatty tissue (P=0.0004). The plaque types did not reveal echo-intensity differences in the IVUS echogram (P=0.882). CONCLUSIONS: Different strain values are found between fibrous, fibro-fatty, and fatty plaque components, indicating the potential of intravascular elastography to distinguish different plaque morphologies.

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Circulation (Baltimore)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Korte, C., Pasterkamp, G., Woutman, H. A., Bom, K., & van der Steen, T. (2000). Characterization of plaque components with intravascular ultrasound elastography in human femoral and coronary arteries in vitro. Circulation (Baltimore), 102(6), 617–623. Retrieved from