A new cardiovascular imaging approach enhances plaque detection

Plaque detection

Researchers have created a new catheter-based tool that combines two potent optical techniques for plaque detection. That accumulates inside the arteries, supplying the heart with blood. The device may aid researchers and physicians in developing more effective treatments. That can help prevent heart attacks and strokes by offering fresh information about plaque.

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of lipids, cholesterol, and other materials on the arterial walls. That can lead to the thickening and stiffening of the arteries. An atherosclerotic plaque within the arteries has the potential to rupture or break off into pieces. This could result in a heart attack or stroke.

Research team member leader Laura Marcu from the University of California, Davis said

Better clinical management made possible by advanced intravascular imaging tools will benefit patients by providing more accurate information to help cardiologists tailor treatment or by supporting the development of new therapies.”

The study published in Biomedical Optics Express describes a new flexible device that combines polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PSOCT) and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM). To collect rich data on the morphology, composition, and microstructure of atherosclerotic plaques.

Gaining unprecedented perspective

Scientists primarily understand atherosclerosis through histopathology studies. However, imaging systems like intravascular ultrasound and intravascular OCT provide improved methods for studying plaques in living patients.

The researchers started a multi-year initiative to develop and validate multispectral FLIM as an intravascular imaging modality. Features including the extracellular matrix’s makeup, the existence of inflammation, and the level of calcification inside an artery can all be understood with the help of FLIM.

They utilized optical components already created by Marcu’s lab and other research organisations. The researchers were able to combine FLIM and PSOCT into a single device without sacrificing the performance of each imaging modality. A newly constructed rotary collimator with high light throughput and high return loss—the ratio of power reflected towards the light source relative to the power incident on the device—was essential to obtaining excellent PSOCT performance.

All of these tests demonstrated the simultaneous acquisition of PSOCT backscattered intensity, birefringence, depolarization information, and co-registered FLIM data over four different spectral bands using the FLIM-PSOCT catheter system.


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