Measurements of plaque stiffness may provide important prognostic and diagnostic information to help clinicians distinguish vulnerable plaques containing soft lipid pools from more stable, stiffer plaques. In this preliminary study, we compare in vivo ultrasonic Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) imaging derived measures of carotid plaque stiffness with composition determined by spatially registered Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in five human subjects with stenosis >50%. Ultrasound imaging was implemented on a commercial diagnostic scanner with custom pulse sequences to collect spatially registered 2D longitudinal B-mode and ARFI images. A standardized, multi-contrast weighted MRI sequence was used to obtain 3D Time of Flight (TOF), T1 weighted (T1W), T2 weighted (T2W), and Proton Density Weighted (PDW) transverse image stacks of volumetric data. The MRI data was segmented to identify lipid, calcium, and normal loose matrix components using commercially available software. 3D MRI segmented plaque models were rendered and spatially registered with 2D B-mode images to create fused ultrasound and MRI volumetric images for each subject. ARFI imaging displacements in regions of interest (ROIs) derived from MRI segmented contours of varying composition were compared. Regions of calcium and normal loose matrix components identified by MRI presented as homogeneously stiff regions of similarly low (typically 1 μm) displacement in ARFI imaging. MRI identified lipid pools >2mm2, found in three out of five subjects, presented as softer regions of increased displacement that were on average 1.8 times greater than the displacements in adjacent regions of loose matrix components in spatially registered ARFI images. This work provides early evidence supporting the use of ARFI imaging to noninvasively identify lipid regions in carotid artery plaques in vivo that are believed to increase the propensity of a plaque to rupture. Additionally, the results provide early training data for future studies and aid in the interpretation and possible clinical utility of ARFI imaging for identifying the elusive vulnerable plaque.
- multi-modality fusion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Computer Science Applications
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering