Acoustic radiation force impulse imaging of vulnerable plaques: a finite element method parametric analysis.
Plaque rupture is the most common cause of complications such as stroke and coronary heart failure. Recent histopathological evidence suggests that several plaque features, including a large lipid core and a thin fibrous cap, are associated with plaques most at risk for rupture. Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) imaging, a recently developed ultrasound-based elasticity imaging technique, shows promise for imaging these features noninvasively. Clinically, this could be used to distinguish vulnerable plaques, for which surgical intervention may be required, from those less prone to rupture. In this study, a parametric analysis using Finite Element Method (FEM) models was performed to simulate ARFI imaging of five different carotid artery plaques across a wide range of material properties. It was demonstrated that ARFI imaging could resolve the softer lipid pool from the surrounding, stiffer media and fibrous cap and was most dependent upon the stiffness of the lipid pool component. Stress concentrations due to an ARFI excitation were located in the media and fibrous cap components. In all cases, the maximum Von Mises stress was<1.2 kPa. In comparing these results with others investigating plaque rupture, it is concluded that while the mechanisms may be different, the Von Mises stresses imposed by ARFI imaging are orders of magnitude lower than the stresses associated with blood pressure.
Doherty, JR; Dumont, DM; Trahey, GE; Palmeri, ML
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