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Coron Artery Dis. 2001 Dec;12(8):655-63.

In-vivo prediction of human coronary plaque rupture location using intravascular ultrasound and the finite element method.

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Department of Composite Materials, University of Savoie, Le Bourget du Lac, France.



Spontaneous rupture of atherosclerotic plaques is known to be involved in the mechanism leading to acute coronary syndromes. Means to detect plaques prone to rupture and predict rupture location would then be very valuable for clinical diagnosis.


In this study, finite element (FE) analysis based on intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) images of atherosclerotic arteries was used to predict in-vivo plaque rupture locations. In four patients with coronary artery diseases, IVUS images were recorded before and after balloon angioplasty. Pre-angioplasty images were recorded after injection of ATP. This caused a brief drop of arterial blood pressure down to values of about 20 mmHg, and thus allowed the recording of the unloaded configurations of arteries used to initiate FE analysis. Plaque rupture was triggered by balloon inflation (coronary angioplasty). FE simulations were performed under physiological loading conditions. Stress distributions within the plaque and the arterial wall were determined. The corresponding stress maps are presented.


Circumferential tensile peak stress areas were compared with plaque rupture locations on postangioplasty IVUS images. They were found to coincide in all four studied cases.


Our results agreed with those reported in previous studies based on ex-vivo postnecropsic data and showed the feasibility of in-vivo prediction of atherosclerotic plaque rupture location.

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