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High-resolution imaging technology reveals cellular details of coronary arteries
Date:7/10/2011

Researchers at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a one-micrometer-resolution version of the intravascular imaging technology optical coherence tomography (OCT) that can reveal cellular and subcellular features of coronary artery disease. In a Nature Medicine paper receiving advance online publication, the investigators describe how microOCT which provides 10 times greater resolution than standard OCT was able to show individual arterial and inflammatory cells, including features that may identify vulnerable plaques, within coronary artery samples.

"MicroOCT has the contrast and resolution required to investigate the cellular and subcellular components underlying coronary atherosclerosis, the disease that precipitates heart attack," says Gary Tearney, MD, PhD, of the Wellman Center and the MGH Pathology Department, who led the study. "This high level of performance opens up the future possibility of observing these microscopic features in human patients, which has implications for improving the understanding, diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring of coronary artery disease."

A catheter-based technology, OCT uses reflected near-infrared light to create detailed images of the internal surfaces of blood vessels. Although the technology is already being used to identify arterial plaques that are likely to rupture, standard OCT can clearly image only structures larger than 10 micrometers (millionths of a meter). Using new types of lenses and advanced imaging components, microOCT is able to image structures as small as one micrometer, revealing in intact tissue the detailed information provided by the prepared tissue slides of traditional pathology much faster and in three dimensions.

The researchers describe how using microOCT to study human and animal coronary artery tissue revealed detailed images of:

  • endothelial cells that line coronary arteries,
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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