Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) is the number one cause of death worldwide. The majority of CAD-induced deaths are due to the rupture of vulnerable plaques. Accurate assessment of plaques is crucial to optimize treatment and prevent death in patients with CAD. Current diagnostic techniques are often limited by either spatial resolution or penetration depth. Several studies have proved that the combined use of optical and ultrasonic imaging techniques increase diagnostic accuracy of vulnerable plaques. Here, we introduce an ultrafast optical-ultrasonic dual-modality imaging system and flexible miniaturized catheter, which enables the translation of this technology into clinical practice. This system can perform simultaneous optical coherence tomography (OCT)-intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging at 72 frames per second safely in vivo, i.e., visualizing a 72 mm-long artery in 4 seconds. Results obtained in atherosclerotic rabbits in vivo and human coronary artery segments show that this ultrafast technique can rapidly provide volumetric mapping of plaques and clearly identify vulnerable plaques. By providing ultrafast imaging of arteries with high resolution and deep penetration depth simultaneously, this hybrid IVUS-OCT technology opens new and safe opportunities to evaluate in real-time the risk posed by plaques, detect vulnerable plaques, and optimize treatment decisions.
Li, J., Ma, T., Mohar, D., Steward, E., Yu, M., Piao, Z., He, Y., Shung, K. K., Zhou, Q., Patel, P. M., & Chen, Z. (2015). Ultrafast optical-ultrasonic system and miniaturized catheter for imaging and characterizing atherosclerotic plaques in vivo. Scientific Reports, 5, 18406. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep18406