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, 81 (1), 1-8

[Direct Diagnosis of the Atherosclerotic Vascular Wall: Possibilities and Limits of Intravascular Ultrasound]

[Article in German]
  • PMID: 1570723

[Direct Diagnosis of the Atherosclerotic Vascular Wall: Possibilities and Limits of Intravascular Ultrasound]

[Article in German]
F Weidinger et al. Z Kardiol.


The clinical application of intravascular ultrasound still awaits established criteria for the interpretation of normal and diseased arterial wall structures. The aim of this preclinical study was to evaluate sonographic features of normal and atherosclerotic human arteries in vitro and to correlate these findings with histological cross-sections. Seventy-four segments from 33 human postmortem arteries of various anatomic locations were studied in saline solution using a mechanical 20-MHz transducer in a 6F catheter. In normal arteries, close correlations were found between sonographic and morphometric measurements of total wall thickness (r = 0.89), lumen circumference (r = 0.99), and of lumen area (r = 0.89, all p less than 0.001). Of 29 histologically verified atherosclerotic lesions, 19 were calcified, and all of them were correctly diagnosed with IVUS; however, acoustic shadowing prevented quantitative plaque evaluation. Of 10 fibromuscular lesions, six (60%) were correctly diagnosed with IVUS, using either direct morphologic criteria (n = 4) or indirect signs of vessel wall irregularity (n = 2), while the remainder (n = 4) were missed by IVUS due to a similar echodensity compared with the surrounding tissue. Thus, there was an overall sensitivity of 86% for the detection of atherosclerotic lesions by IVUS. In animal experiments in vivo, the feasibility of high-quality-imaging in pulsatile arteries was confirmed and pathologic changes in vein grafts were visualized. We conclude that IVUS carries the potential to directly assess arterial wall changes in vivo. The method appears very sensitive in the detection of calcified plaque, whereas fibromuscular lesions may often not be readily distinguished from normal surrounding tissue. This may limit the clinical usefulness of IVUS at the present time.

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