3 years ago

Visualizing Angle-Independent Principal Strains in the Longitudinal View of the Carotid Artery: Phantom and In Vivo Evaluation

Marvin M. Doyley, Giovanni Schifitto, Rohit Nayak
Non-invasive vascular elastography can evaluate the stiffness of the carotid artery by visualizing the vascular strain distribution. Axial strain estimates of the longitudinal cross section of the carotid artery are sensitive to the angle between the artery and the transducer. Anatomical variations in branching and arching of the carotid artery can affect the assessment of arterial stiffness. In this study, we hypothesized that principal strain elastograms computed using compounded plane wave imaging can reliably visualize the strain distribution in the carotid artery, independent of the transducer angle. We corroborated this hypothesis by conducting phantom and in vivo studies using a commercial ultrasound scanner (Sonix RP, Ultrasonix Medical Corp., Richmond, BC, Canada). The phantom studies were conducted using a homogeneous cryogel vessel phantom. The goal of the phantom study was to assess the feasibility of visualizing the radial deformation in the longitudinal plane of the vessel phantom, independent of the transducer angle (±30°, ±20°, ±10° and 0°). The in vivo studies were conducted on 20 healthy human volunteers in the age group 50–60 y. All echo imaging was performed at a transmit frequency of 5 MHz and sampling frequency of 40 MHz. The elastograms obtained from the phantom study revealed that for straight vessels, which had their lumen parallel to the transducer, principal strains were similar to axial strains. At non-parallel configurations (angles ±30°, ±20° and ±10°), the magnitudes of the mean principal strains were within 2.5% of the parallel configuration (0° angle) estimates and, thus, were observed to be relatively unaffected by change in angle. However, in comparison, the magnitude of the axial strain decreased with increase in angle because of coordinate dependency. Further, the pilot in vivo study indicated that the principal and axial strain elastograms were similar for subjects with relatively straight arteries. However, for arteries with arched geometry, axial strains were significantly lower (p <0.01) than the corresponding principal vascular strains, which was consistent with the results obtained from the phantom study. In conclusion, the results of the phantom and in vivo studies revealed that principal strain elastograms computed using CPW imaging could reliably visualize angle-independent vascular strains in the longitudinal plane of the carotid artery.
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