This in vitro study investigated the ability of ultrasonic tissue characterization (UTC) to discriminate between plaques from asymptomatic and symptomatic patients and to compare UTC findings with quantitative measurements of plaque morphology. A total of 34 plaque specimens removed at carotid endarterectomy were scanned transversely at intervals of 1 mm, and compared to tissue cross-sections examined by optical microscopy employing computer-assisted planimetry. UTC was performed by spectral analysis of backscattered radiofrequency signals. The slope, intercept and total power parameters of the spectrum were evaluated. Discriminant analysis was used to compare the ability of the UTC spectral parameters and morphological constituents to correctly classify plaques according to their symptom group membership. UTC correctly classified 88.2% of the plaques. Thrombus was present in 93.9% of the plaques, and there was little difference in the morphological constituents of plaques from asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. Morphological constituents correctly classified 60.7% of the plaques. We conclude, in this preliminary study, that UTC can discriminate between carotid plaques from asymptomatic and symptomatic patients with moderate accuracy, despite a similarity in their morphological composition. UTC discrimination is not related to differences in the type or amount of morphological constituents in the plaques.
Lee, D. J., Sigel, B., Swami, V. K., Justin, J. R., Gahtan, V., O'Brien, S. P., & ... Berkowitz, H. D. (1998). Determination of carotid plaque risk by ultrasonic tissue characterization. Ultrasound In Medicine & Biology, 24(9), 1291-1299