Combined Ultrasound and Fluorescence Spectroscopy for Physico-Chemical Imaging of Atherosclerosis

Steve Warren, Karl Pope, Youseph Yazdi, Ashley J. Welch, Sharon Thomsen, Alfred L. Johnston, Michael J. Davis, Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This paper describes a combined ultrasonic and spectroscopic system for remotely obtaining physico-chemical images of normal arterial tissue and atherosclerotic plaque. Despite variations in detector-tissue separation, R, fluorescence powers corresponding to pixels in the image are converted to the same set of calibrated units using distance estimations from A-mode ultrasound reflection times. An empirical model, validated by Monte Carlo simulations of light propagation in tissue, is used to describe changes in fluorescence power as a function of R. Fluorescence spectra of normal and atherosclerotic human aorta obtained with this system are presented as a function of R. To compensate for changes in fluorescence power with R, the empirical model was used in each case to calculate the fluorescence power at a constant reference value of R(Rref = 1.67 mm). Prior to compensation, tissue fluorescence power decreased more than a factor of two as R was increased from 2.5 to 5 mm. Following compensation, the fluorescence power varied less than ± 10% of the average compensated peak. The chemical composition of each sample was determined by fitting its fluorescence spectrum (in calibrated units) to a model of tissue fluorescence incorporating structural protein and ceroid fluorescence, as well as structural protein and hemoglobin attenuation. Parameters of the fit were used to classify tissue type. Without compensation for distance variation, classification of tissue type was frequently incorrect; however, with compensation, predictive value was high. A 1-D chemical image of a section of human aorta containing both normal and atherosclerotic regions obtained with this system is also presented. After compensation for detector-sample separation, tissue classifications along the cross-section closely resemble those obtained from histology. Regions of elevated ceroid concentration and intimal thickening are clearly observable in the resultant chemical image. The potential value of this type of system in the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-132
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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