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.

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

Fujifilm SonoSite Unveils Full Suite of iViz Point-of-Care Transducers

The L25v ultrasound transducer for the Fujifilm Sonosite iViz is available for superficial applications such as ophthalmic, arterial, venous, lung and nerve. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Sonosite.

Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | August 15, 2018
Fujifilm SonoSite Inc. announced the launch of two new transducers for the SonoSite iViz point-of-care ultrasound, now...
Exact Imaging Becomes UroGPO Imaging Partner
News | Ultrasound Imaging | August 10, 2018
Exact Imaging announced that it has become a UroGPO Imaging Partner, joining the North American urology-specific group...
Cardiac Imaging Reveals Roots of Preeclampsia Damage in Pregnant Women
News | Women's Health | August 07, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers say a heart imaging study of scores of pregnant women with the most severe and dangerous form...
Konica Minolta Healthcare Announces UGPro Solution for Ultrasound-Guided Procedures
News | Ultrasound Imaging | August 07, 2018
Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas Inc. announces UGPro Solution, a new initiative that provides complete solutions for...
Siemens Healthineers Launches Acuson Sequoia Ultrasound
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | July 12, 2018
July 12, 2018 — Siemens Healthineers recently announced the launch of its new ultrasound system, the Acuson Sequoia.
EchoNous Vein Receives FDA Approval to Improve First-Time Peripheral IV Catheter Insertion
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | July 12, 2018
EchoNous has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance for the EchoNous Vein, an ultrasound-...
Hologic Announces Availability of Viera Portable Breast Ultrasound System
Technology | Ultrasound Women's Health | July 11, 2018
Hologic’s new Viera portable breast ultrasound system is now available for purchase in the United States and Europe....
Healcerion Receives FDA Approval for Sonon 300L Handheld Ultrasound Device
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | July 09, 2018
South Korea-based Healcerion launched the Sonon 300L wireless handheld ultrasound device to the U.S. market following U...
Neural Analytics Inc. Receives CE Mark for Robotic Ultrasound System
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | July 03, 2018
Medical robotics company Neural Analytics Inc. announced that it received CE Mark for its NeuralBot System, a robotic...
Konica Minolta Launches Sonimage MX1 Portable Ultrasound System
Technology | Ultrasound Imaging | June 28, 2018
Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas Inc. introduced the Sonimage MX1 portable ultrasound system, optimized for...
Overlay Init