New noninvasive imaging modality can better assess CVD risk

A new cardiovascular imaging technique can reveal important information about the plaque characteristics of a patient’s carotid artery in real time, reported authors of a recent study published in Radiology. One researcher believes the method has the potential to become as popular as ultrasound.

The new modality, volumetric multi-spectral optoacoustic tomography (vMSOT), is similar to ultrasound in that it uses a handheld device that is moved against a patient’s neck. But volumetric MSOT uses spectroscopy to gather enhanced information about the artery, which is unattainable when using ultrasound, CT or MRI.

"Unlike most other clinical imaging modalities mainly looking at late-stage anatomical manifestations of diseases, volumetric MSOT is capable of sensing specific molecules in tissues without administration of contrast agents," said Daniel Razansky, PhD, director of the Functional and Molecular Imaging Lab at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, in an RSNA press release. "In the case of carotid artery disease, assessment of the entire bifurcation area in real time and in 3-D is only possible with vMSOT."

The researchers performed ultrasound and vMSOT in 16 healthy volunteers and compared the results. They found using vMSOT was “less prone than ultrasound to motion-related, image-blurring artifacts,” according to the release.

In light of their findings, Razansky and colleagues believe vMSOT may be able to earlier detect biomarkers of cardiovascular disease, thereby improving diagnosis and treatment decisions.

"Given its fast imaging performance, excellent molecular contrast, portability and affordability, I truly believe that volumetric MSOT will soon be routinely used in the clinic," Razansky said. "One day, it may even become as popular as ultrasound."