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Atherosclerosis is a systemic, multifactorial disease affecting large arteries throughout the body. Arteriosclerosis is defined by thickening and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls.

There are three patterns (arteriosclerosis is used as a generic term):

  • atherosclerosis: large and medium-sized arteries
  • Mönckeberg medial calcific sclerosis: muscular arteries
  • arteriolosclerosis: small arteries and arterioles

Given the natural history of atherosclerosis with a silent progression over several decades, reliable methods for risk estimations in individuals are a clinical need.

Intimal thickening, plaque formation, plaque neovascularization, and the expression of cell adhesion molecules and pro-thrombotic factors are all potential targets for imaging of atherosclerosis with ultrasound.

Which ultrasound scanner is used for atherosclerotic assessment?

Nowadays, non-invasive imaging of superficial arteries and veins is performed with an array transducers operating at frequencies between 5 and 7.5 MHz. The SIFULTRAS-5.42 locates arteries deeper in the body like coronary arteries.

Established atherosclerotic lesions can be visualized with anatomical Doppler or B-mode ultrasound imaging. Atherosclerotic can be visualized on B-mode as protrusions of the intima-media and the number of visualized plaques, as well as total plaque area or total plaque volume was reported to be an independent predictor of future cardiovascular mortality and coronary events.

The practitioner may also use a Doppler ultrasound to measure blood pressure at various points along the arm or leg. These measurements can help gauge the degree of any blockages, as well as the speed of blood flow in the arteries.

A Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive test that can depict blood flow by bouncing high-frequency sound waves off of red blood cells to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Faintness or absence of sound may indicate an obstruction in the blood flow.

Present evidence indicates that ultrasound recordings of the thickness of the carotid intima-media complex may give information on the stage of atherosclerotic disease.

Even though plaques that are large enough to be visualized with ultrasound develop relatively late in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. However, increases in the carotid intima media thickness (C-IMT), which occur prior to plaque development, can be measured with high-resolution ultrasound. 

For carotid applications, the common carotid artery as well as the internal and external carotid artery can be imaged. During a routine evaluation of the supraortic vessels, the array transducer is positioned in the longitudinal direction of the artery. The carotid wall as well as the eventually present intimal thickening or plaque can be quantified.

The amount of blood pumped with each beat is an indication of the size of a vessel’s opening. Also, Doppler ultrasound can detect abnormal blood flow within a vessel, which can indicate a blockage caused by a blood clot, a plaque, or inflammation.

The ultrasound technique is able to give important information on intima-media thickness, lumen diameter, cross-sectional intima-media area, and the occurrence of plaque in superficial large arteries. The hypertension group will be prospectively followed with ultrasound investigation of intima-media thickness and lumen diameter in the carotid artery to investigate the possible beneficial influence of a multiple risk factor intervention program.

References: Ultrasound Evaluation of Atherosclerotic Manifestations in the Carotid Artery in High-Risk Hypertensive Patients, Ultrasound Imaging for Risk Assessment in Atherosclerosis.

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Disclaimer: Although the information we provide is used by different doctors and medical staff to perform their procedures and clinical applications, the information contained in this article is for consideration only. SIFSOF is not responsible neither for the misuse of the device nor for the wrong or random generalizability of the device in all clinical applications or procedures mentioned in our articles. Users must have the proper training and skills to perform the procedure with each ultrasound scanner device.

The products mentioned in this article are only for sale to medical staff (doctors, nurses, certified practitioners, etc.) or to private users assisted by or under the supervision of a medical professional. 

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