Ultrasound elastography has shown potential for improved plaque risk stratification. However, no clear consensus exists on what output metric to use, or what imaging parameters would render optimal plaque differentiation. For this reason we developed a combined ex vivo and in vitro setup, in which the ability to differentiate phantom plaques of varying stiffness was evaluated as a function of plaque geometry, push location, imaging plane, and analysed wave speed metric. The results indicate that group velocity or phase velocity 1 kHz showed the highest ability to significantly differentiate plaques of different stiffness, successfully classifying a majority of the 24 analysed plaque geometries, respectively. The ability to differentiate plaques was also better in the longitudinal views than in the transverse view. Group velocity as well as phase velocities <1 kHz showed a systematic underestimation of plaque stiffness, stemming from the confined plaque geometries, however, despite this group velocity analysis showed lowest deviation in estimated plaque stiffness (0.1 m s-1 compared to 0.2 m s-1 for phase velocity analysis). SWE results were also invariant to SWE push location, albeit apparent differences in signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and generated plaque particle velocity. With that, the study has reinforced the potential of SWE for successful plaque differentiation; however the results also highlight the importance of choosing optimal imaging settings and using an appropriate wave speed metric when attempting to differentiate different plaque groups.
- plaque characterization
- shear wave elastography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging