Feature | April 30, 2014

New Ultrasound Device May Help Detect Vulnerable Plaques, Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed an ultrasound device to help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke. Courtesy Xiaoning Jiang, North Carolina State University.

April 30, 2014 — Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a new ultrasound device that could help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke.

At issue is the plaque that builds up in arteries as people age. Some types of plaque are deemed "vulnerable," meaning that they are more likely to detach from the artery wall and cause heart attack or stroke.

"Existing state-of-the-art technologies are capable of determining if plaque is present in the arteries, but can't tell whether it's vulnerable. And that makes it difficult to assess a patient's risk," said Paul Dayton, Ph.D., co-author of a paper on the new device and professor in the joint biomedical engineering department at NC State and Chapel Hill. "Our goal was to develop something that could effectively identify which plaques are vulnerable."

There are two ultrasound techniques that can help identify vulnerable plaques, but both depend on the use of contrast agents called "microbubbles." The first technique is to identify "vasa vasorum" in arteries, clusters of small blood vessels that often infiltrate arterial plaque and are considered indicators that a plaque is vulnerable. When microbubbles are injected into an artery, they follow the flow of the blood. If vasa vasorum are present, the microbubbles will flow through these blood vessels as well, effectively highlighting them on ultrasound images.

The second technique is called molecular imaging, and relies on the use of "targeted" microbubbles. These microbubbles attach themselves to specific molecules that are more likely to be found in vulnerable plaques, making the plaques stand out on ultrasound images.

"The problem is that existing intravascular ultrasound technology does not do a very good job in detecting contrast agents," said Xiaoning Jiang, Ph.D., an NC State associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering and co-author of the paper. "So we've developed a dual-frequency intravascular ultrasound transducer which transmits and receives acoustic signals. Operating on two frequencies allows us to do everything the existing intravascular ultrasound devices can do, but also makes it much easier for us to detect the contrast agents – or microbubbles – used for molecular imaging and vasa vasorum detection."

The prototype device has performed well in laboratory testing, but the researchers say they are continuing to optimize the technology. They hope to launch pre-clinical studies in the near future.

For more information: www.ncsu.edu

Related Content

GE Healthcare, Vivid iq portable cardiovascular ultrasound, RSNA 2016, launch
Technology | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| September 22, 2016
September 22, 2016 — GE Healthcare announced the global commercial launch of its new generation of high-end portable
Transesophageal Echo, TEE. Interventional echocardiography, interventional echo, Philips, CX50

Transesophageal echo (TEE) has become an essential part of the new transcatheter structrual heart therapies, giving rise to a new sub-speciality of interventional echocardiography.  

Feature | Cath Lab Navigation Aids| September 21, 2016 | Dave Fornell
The rapid growth of transcatheter structural heart procedures and the need for increased use of echocardiography as a
Toshiba, Aplio 500 Platinum ultrasound, International Contrast Ultrasound Society, ICUS, live case, contrast-enhanced ultrasound
News | Ultrasound Imaging| September 07, 2016
September 7, 2016 — Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc.
best ultrasound technician schools, 2016 ranking, College Choice
News | Ultrasound Imaging| August 22, 2016
August 22, 2016 — College Choice, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources, has published
Absorb, bioresorbable stent, FDA approval, FDA approves, FDA clears, most popular content, most popular stories, DAIC

The FDA clearance of the first bioresorbable stent, the Abbott Absorb, the first week of July has been the most popular story so far for all of 2016. It is the first fully dissolving stent approved for the U.S. market and many experts say this technology could be a paradigm shift in coronary and peripheral therapies in the coming years as the technology improves. 

Feature | August 05, 2016 | Dave Fornell
 
mitral valve surgery outcomes, twisting of the heart, echocardiography, NICSMR, JACC Basic to Translational Science
News | Heart Valve Technology| July 20, 2016
A novel study has found a simple pre-operative echocardiographic measurement of the amount of torsion of the heart...
ASE, SCCT, SCMR, guideline, multimodality imaging, transposition of the great arteries, TGA
News | Congenital Heart| July 20, 2016
At the end of June, experts from three different medical societies released a new guideline to help optimize lifetime...
ContextVision, US PLUSView ultrasound enhancement software, iOS
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging| July 11, 2016
ContextVision has signed a contract to bring its US PLUSView ultrasound image enhancement software to hand-held iOS-...
Csound, GE ultrasound, cSound, Mitral valve, cardiac ultrasound

An example of improved cardiac ultrasound image processing using the GE cSound technology, which can create CT-like quality 3-D renderings of the anatomy.

Feature | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| July 11, 2016 | Jon Brubaker, MBA, RCVT and Sabrina Newell MS, RCS
There were several overall key trends evident at the 2016 meeting of the American Society of Echocardiography in June
ASE 2016, echo, echocardiography, cardiac ultrasound, annual meeting, ASE.16, American Society of Echocardiography
Feature | Cardiovascular Ultrasound| July 01, 2016
Below is a round up of news and videos about new cardiac ultrasound technology discussed in sessions and on the expo
Overlay Init