New Imaging Method May Make Vulnerable Plaque Detection Easier

New research to be presented at the 20th Annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium.

New research to be presented at the 20th Annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium indicates that optical coherence tomography (OCT) may be the most effective imaging modality for detecting vulnerable plaque in coronary arteries.

A team of researchers at Ajou University School of Medicine in Suwon, Korea, led by So-Yeon Choi, MD, PhD, has revealed that “OCT provides superior contrast and resolution in imaging the components of plaque in coronary arteries versus other methods including intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and virtual histology (VH-IVUS).”

The team will present its findings at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference in an abstract titled “Comparison of Intravascular Modalities for Detecting Vulnerable Plaque: Conventional Ultrasound vs. Virtual Histology vs. Optical Coherence Tomography.” The conference is sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF).

In a press release distributed by the CRF, Dr. Choi said that “OCT may answer longstanding questions about the relationship between vulnerable plaque and the risk of heart attack.”

To determine the effectiveness of OCT versus other imaging methods in detecting vulnerable plaque, researchers performed IVUS, VH-IVUS, and OCT in 48 patients who were categorized as having stable angina pectoris or acute coronary syndromes. Dr. Choi stated hat “OCT detected most of the major and minor characteristics of vulnerable plaque, including the thin cap with large lipid core, and it has the ability to detect thrombus and fissured plaque at a level that is four to five times better than that of other modalities. Because of OCT's high resolution capabilities, which is almost 10 times greater than with IVUS and related modalities, it can assess this tissue more accurately than other imaging methods.”

Although researchers are optimistic that these findings demonstrate the accuracy of OCT and may lead to “a better understanding of the natural progression of coronary artery disease,” they caution that current OCT technology has several limitations, and needs “a blood-clear zone and a low penetrating depth to be most effective.”

Additional Information:

Technology Insight: Optical Coherence Tomography—Current Status and Future Development

In Vivo Characterization of Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaque by Use of Optical Coherence Tomography