Objectives: This study was performed to determine the potential of intravascular ultrasound in the detection and delineation of aortic dissection.
Background: Intravascular ultrasound is a new technique capable of displaying real-time cross-sectional images of arterial vasculature. Its clinical use has been explored mostly in coronary and peripheral arterial circulation.
Methods: Intravascular ultrasound imaging of the aorta was performed using a 20-MHz ultrasound catheter in 28 patients with suspected aortic dissection. All patients underwent contrast angiography; 7 had computed tomography; and 22 had transesophageal echocardiography.
Results: Imaging of the aorta from the root level to its bifurcation was performed in all patients in an average of 10 min. No complications occurred. Dissection was present in 23 patients and absent in 5. In the patients without dissection, intravascular ultrasound revealed normal aortic anatomy. In all 23 patients with dissection, intravascular ultrasound demonstrated the intimal flap and true and false lumena. The longitudinal and circumferential extent of aortic dissection, contents of the false lumen, involvement of branch vessels and the presence of intramural hematoma in the aortic wall could also be identified. In cases where aortography could not define the distal extent of the dissection, intravascular ultrasound did.
Conclusions: Our experience in this series of patients with aortic dissection indicates that intravascular ultrasound could be valuable in the identification and categorization of aortic dissection and in the description of associated pathologic changes that may be clinically important. It can be performed rapidly and safely and could serve as an alternative or adjunct diagnostic procedure in patients with aortic dissection.