Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the industrialized nations. Accurate quantification of both the morphology and composition of lipid-rich vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque are essential for early detection and optimal treatment in clinics. In previous works, intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) imaging for detection of lipid-rich plaque within coronary artery walls has been demonstrated in ex vivo, but the imaging speed is still limited. In order to increase the imaging speed, a high repetition rate laser is needed. In this work, we present a high speed integrated IVPA/US imaging system with a 500 Hz optical parametric oscillator laser at 1725 nm. A miniature catheter with 1.0 mm outer diameter was designed with a 200 μm multimode fiber and an ultrasound transducer with 45 MHz center frequency. The fiber was polished at 38 degree and enclosed in a glass capillary for total internal reflection. An optical/electrical rotary junction and pull-back mechanism was applied for rotating and linearly scanning the catheter to obtain three-dimensional imaging. Atherosclerotic rabbit abdominal aorta was imaged as two frame/second at 1725 nm. Furthermore, by wide tuning range of the laser wavelength from 1680 nm to 1770 nm, spectroscopic photoacoustic analysis of lipid-mimicking phantom and an human atherosclerotic artery was performed ex vivo. The results demonstrated that the developed IVPA/US imaging system is capable for high speed intravascular imaging for plaque detection.
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