New Cardiac Catheter Combines Light, Ultrasound to Measure P
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A team from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis has combined intravascular ultrasound with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm) in a single catheter probe that can image the tiny arteries of a living heart.

The new catheter can simultaneously retrieve structural and biochemical information about the arterial plaque that could more reliably predict heart attacks. The new device is described in a recent paper published in Scientific Reports. The catheter used in the study is flexible enough to access coronary arteries in a living human following standard procedure. It does not require any injected fluorescent tracers or any special modification of the catheterization procedures.

An optical fiber sends short laser pulses into surrounding tissue, which fluoresces with tiny flashes of light in return. Different kinds of tissue (collagen, proteins, lipids) emit different amounts of fluorescence.At the same time, an ultrasound probe in the catheter records structural information about the blood vessel. The combination FLIm-IVUS imaging catheter provides a comprehensive insight into how atherosclerotic plaque forms, aiding diagnosis and providing a way to measure how plaques shrink in response to therapy.

The new technique will improve understanding of mechanisms behind plaque rupture - an event with fatal consequences-as well as aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with heart disease. The researchers have tested the catheter in living swine hearts and samples of human coronary arteries and are working to obtain FDA approval to test this new intravascular technology on human patients...
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