Cardiac catheter pairs light and ultrasound to measure plaques

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In University of California, a group of researchers combined intravascular ultrasound with fluorescence lifetime imaging in a single catheter probe that can image the tiny arteries of a living heart. The new catheter can give structural and biochemical information about arterial plaque. An Optical fiber in the catheter sends short laser pulses into surrounding tissues, which fluorescens with tiny flashes of light.

Different kinds of tissues emit different amounts of fluorescence. An ultrasound probe which is connected in the catheter records structural information of blood vessels.

The combination of FLIm-IVUS imaging centre provides how atherosclerotic plaque forms, aiding diagnosis and providing a way to measure how plaques shrink in response to therapy.

The catheter used in the study is flexible enough to access coronary arteries. It does not require any fluorescent tracers.

The new technique could not only improve understanding of mechanisms but also diagnosis and treatment of patients with heart diseases.

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