New Cardiac Catheter Combines Light and Ultrasound to Measure Plaques

Source: University of California, Davis

Summary: Biomedical Engineers at UC Davis have combined intravascular ultrasound with fluorescence lifetime imaging in a single catheter probe which detects the plaques and reliably predicts heart attacks.

In heart diseases, the identification of composition of plaque (cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels) is very difficult. Cardiologists need better ways to win the battle against heart problems. The current medical imaging technique, angiography allows them to examine blood vessel in the constricted regions by injecting them with a contrast agent. Angiography can miss the buildups of plaque as they do not always result in constricted vessels. Biomedical Engineers at UC Davis developed a new catheter which can detect tiny arteries of the living heart. This device is described in a paper recently published in Scientific Reports.

intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) with fluorescence life time imaging (FLIm)


Prof. Laura Marcu’s lab combined intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) with fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm) in a single catheter probe which can retrieve structural information (recorded by an ultrasound probe) and biochemical information (recorded by an optical fiber which sends short lases pulses) about the arterial plaques and can easily predict heart attacks. This catheter provides a broad insight into how atherosclerotic plaque forms and helps in the diagnosis and it has been tested in living swine hearts and human coronary artery samples. Marcu’s research team is currently working to obtain FDA approval for testing this catheter on human patients.

More Information: Julien Bec et al, “In vivo label-free structural and biochemical imaging of coronary arteries using an integrated ultrasound and multispectral fluorescence lifetime catheter system”, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-08056-0

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