Research explores laser-based imaging platform for atherosclerosis

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A new laser-based camera could one day become the tool that will help physicians know who is at risk of atheroscerlosis, by providing better views of potential problem areas. 
 
The new study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering reports that in this pre-clinical phase, researchers from the University of Michigan used a scanning fiber endoscope (SFE), which was originally designed for early cancer detection. 
 
“The camera actually goes inside the vessels,” said Luis Savastano, MD, a resident neurosurgeon in a statement. “We can see with very high resolution the surface of the vessels and any lesions, such as a ruptured plaque, that could cause a stroke. This technology could possibly find the ‘smoking gun’ lesion in patients with strokes of unknown cause, and may even be able to show which silent, but at-risk, plaques may cause a cardiovascular event in the future.” 
 
SFE was used in this study for acquiring high quality images of possible stroke-causing regions of the carotid artery that may not be detected with conventional radiological techniques. In addition to being able to discover the cause of the stroke, SFE also has the potential to aide neurosurgeons with therapeutic interventions. 
 
“The ability to identify and monitor the biological markers that render a plaque unstable and at risk for rupture could enable the detection of individuals within high-risk populations who are most likely to suffer from cardiovascular events, and therefore benefit the most from preventive treatment during the a symptomatic stage,” said B. Gregory Thompson, MD, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Michigan Medical School and senior author of the study.