Stroke is one of the primary manifestations of cardiovascular disease affecting 15 million people annually worldwide. The bifurcation area of carotid arteries is particularly prone to plaque development, which is most often associated with ischemic strokes. Thus, early non-invasive detection of plaque vulnerability can have many positive implications for stroke prevention and healthcare costs. Optoacoustic imaging is increasingly finding applicability in clinical diagnostics, owing to its high resolution capacities and excellent label-free contrast related to vascular anatomy and haemodynamic deep within tissues. In this work, we developed a dedicated hand-held optoacoustic imaging probe for non-invasive imaging of the carotid artery and evaluate the feasibility of real-time volumetric imaging of the human carotids in vivo. The rapid volumetric image acquisition enables visualising the entire bifurcation area with 200µm spatial resolution free of motion artefacts e.g. related to breathing or pulsation. Carotid arteries located at depths between 5-15 mm from the skin surface were measured and their spectral contrast was assessed at varying excitation wavelengths in the 730-900nm range. Cross-sectional anatomical views of the bifurcation area were analysed in sagittal and transverse planes and compared with pulse-echo ultrasonography images. Volumetric image rendering in real time further enabled analysing the diameter and motion dynamics of the pulsing artery during cardiac cycle. The newly discovered capacity to non-invasively visualize the entire carotid bifurcation in three dimensions and real time may provide new insights on the structure and function of the human carotid artery toward reliable non-invasive detection of stenosis and plaque vulnerability.
Ivana Ivankovic, Elena Mercep, Xosé Luis Deán-Ben, and Daniel Razansky, "Non-invasive dynamic visualisation of the carotid artery bifurcation in vivo with a three-dimensional optoacoustic hand-held scanner (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10471, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications of Light in Cardiology 2018, 104710I (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 27, 2018; Published: 14 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2290267.5751476013001.
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