An inverse method for imaging the local elasticity of atherosclerotic coronary plaques

RA (Radj) Baldewsing, Mike Danilouchkine, Frits Mastik, Johannes Schaar, PWJC (Patrick) Serruys, Ton van der Steen

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46 Citations (Scopus)


The rupture of thin-cap fibroatheroma (TCFA) plaques is a major cause of acute coronary events. A TCFA has a trombogenic soft lipid core, shielded from the blood stream by a thin, possibly inflamed, stiff cap. The majority of atherosclerotic plaques resemble a TCFA in terms of overall structural composition, but have a more complex, heterogeneous morphology. An assessment of the material distribution is vital for quantifying the plaque's mechanical stability and for determining the effect of plaque-stabilizing pharmaceutical agents. We describe a new automated inverse elasticity method, intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) modulography, which is capable of reconstructing a heterogeneous Young's modulus distribution. The elastogram (i.e., spatial strain distribution) of the plaque is the input for the method, and is measured using the clinically available technique, IVUS elastography. Our method incorporates a novel divide-and-conquer strategy, allowing the reconstruction of TCFAs as well as heterogeneous plaques with localized regions of soft, weakened tissue. The method was applied to ex vivo elastograms, which were simulated from the cross sections of postmortem human coronary plaques. To demonstrate the clinical feasibility of the method, measured elastograms from human atherosclerotic coronary arteries were analyzed. One elastogram was measured in vitro; the other, in vivo. The method approximated the true Young's modulus distribution of all simulated plaques, while the in vitro reconstruction was in agreement with histology. In conclusion, the IVUS modulography in combination with the IVUS elastography has strong potential to become an all-encompassing modality for detecting plaques, for assessing the information related to their rupture-proneness, and for imaging their heterogeneous elastic material composition.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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