Application of High-Resolution Imaging to the Detection and Preliminary Characterization of Atherosclerosis
A large aperture real-time imaging equipment combining over 50dB displayed gray scale and submillimeter resolutions is being utilized for the detection and characterization of atherosclerosis. The preliminary application has been the imaging of the carotid arteries in humans and animals. Atherosclerotic plaques varying in size from less than one-millimeter to those amounting to over 80% occlusion of the artery lumen have been readily detected. The cisual B-scan image of different plaques appears distinctly different and at this early stage it is possible to qualitatively identify the nature of these distinct differences in the images of the atherosclerotic plaques. It is possible to repeatedly recognize the appearances of “hard” vs. “soft” plaques, ulcerated plaques and thrombi. Further in-vivo and in-vitro testing has been done in animals wherein a known atherosclerotic lesion has been produced surgically. This is imaged in-vivo with ultrasound and studied pathologically. By means of such correlation a visual pattern in the B-scan image corresponding to a quasi-random distribution of bright dots appears to be associated with the thrombi.