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Quantitative Evaluation of the Polarization Characteristics of Coronary Arteries Atherosclerotic Plaques at Different Development Stages

Quantitative Evaluation of the Polarization Characteristics of Coronary Arteries Atherosclerotic Plaques at Different Development Stages

Gubarkova E.V., Kiseleva E.B., Kirillin M.Yu., Timofeeva L.B., Kuznetsov S.S., Feldchtein F.I., Gladkova N.D.
Keywords: cross-polarization optical coherence tomography; CP OCT; atherosclerotic plaque; quantitative image processing; cross-scattering; effective coefficient of birefringence.
СТМ, 2015, volume 7, issue 4, pages 39-49.

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The aim of the investigation was to develop an approach to quantitative evaluation of polarization properties (birefringence and cross-scattering) basing on cross-polarization OCT images (CP OCT) in order to characterize the development stages of atherosclerotic plaques and to reveal unstable ones.

Materials and Methods. We report on quantitative analysis of CP OCT images of the seven development stages of atherosclerotic plaques ex vivo. Integral depolarization factor (IDF) and effective birefringence coefficient (Δn) were proposed as parameters for quantitative characterization of the CP OCT images.

Results. Calculation of the IDF and Δn in the local region of interest (intima/fibrous cap) showed a statistically relevant difference between stable (stage IV) and unstable (stage Va) plaques (0.46±0.21 against 0.09±0.04 for IDF and (0.47±0.10)·10–3 against (0.25±0.07)·10–3 for Δn; (p<0.05). It was found that Δn value in the range (0.22–0.29)·10–3 (within the limits of two standard deviations) indicates the presence of only a small amount of highly organized collagen in the fibrous cap of an unstable plaque which can indicate its tendency to rupture. We believe that these changes are connected with the prevalence of disorganized fibers during the inflammatory process in the fibrous cap of an unstable plaque, and to the presence of clusters of foam cells and inflammatory cells between them.

Conclusion. The proposed approach to the quantitative evaluation of CP OCT images (calculation of IDF and building Δn maps) allows to assess both cross-scattering and birefringence of atherosclerotic plaques at various development stages and more reliably reveal their vulnerability.

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Gubarkova E.V., Kiseleva E.B., Kirillin M.Yu., Timofeeva L.B., Kuznetsov S.S., Feldchtein F.I., Gladkova N.D. Quantitative Evaluation of the Polarization Characteristics of Coronary Arteries Atherosclerotic Plaques at Different Development Stages. Sovremennye tehnologii v medicine 2015; 7(4): 39–49,

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