Evaluating the intensity of the acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) in intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging: Preliminaryin vitroresults

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The ability to measure the elastic properties of plaques and vessels is significant in clinical diagnosis, particularly for detecting a vulnerable plaque. A novel concept of combining intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging and acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) imaging has recently been proposed. This method has potential in elastography for distinguishing between the stiffness of plaques and arterial vessel walls. However, the intensity of the acoustic radiation force requires calibration as a standard for the further development of an ARFI–IVUS imaging device that could be used in clinical applications. In this study, a dual-frequency transducer with 11 MHz and 48 MHz was used to measure the association between the biological tissue displacement and the applied acoustic radiation force. The output intensity of the acoustic radiation force generated by the pushing element ranged from 1.8 to 57.9 mW/cm2, as measured using a calibrated hydrophone. The results reveal that all of the acoustic intensities produced by the transducer in the experiments were within the limits specified by FDA regulations and could still displace the biological tissues. Furthermore, blood clots with different hematocrits, which have elastic properties similar to the lipid pool of plaques, with stiffness ranging from 0.5 to 1.9 kPa could be displaced from 1 to 4 μm, whereas the porcine arteries with stiffness ranging from 120 to 291 kPa were displaced from 0.4 to 1.3 μm when an acoustic intensity of 57.9 mW/cm2 was used. The in vitro ARFI images of the artery with a blood clot and artificial arteriosclerosis showed a clear distinction of the stiffness distributions of the vessel wall. All the results reveal that ARFI–IVUS imaging has the potential to distinguish the elastic properties of plaques and vessels. Moreover, the acoustic intensity used in ARFI imaging has been experimentally quantified. Although the size of this two-element transducer is unsuitable for IVUS imaging, the experimental results reported herein can be applied in ARFI–IVUS imaging applications.

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