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Semin Vasc Surg. 2006 Sep;19(3):155-62.

Virtual histology and color flow intravascular ultrasound in peripheral interventions.

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Arizona Heart Hospital & Foundation, Phoenix, AZ, USA.


The quality and interpretation of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging has been revolutionized in recent years by two new and major advances: virtual histology and color flow IVUS. Virtual histology intravascular ultrasound (VHIVUS) is a catheter-based technology where IVUS is generated from the transducer on the catheter tip and the reflected signals from the artery wall produce a color-coded map of the arterial disease. Different histological constituents of the plaque produce different reflected signals and these are assigned different colors (dark green, fibrous; yellow/green, fibrofatty; white, calcified; red, necrotic lipid core plaque). This color-coded map assists the interventionalist in understanding more fully how the lesion will behave at the moment of treatment, whether it will resist complete stent deployment or be liable to embolization. Originally introduced for coronary interventions, VHIVUS is now being applied to peripheral situations. Because it provides a detailed and close-proximity view of plaque, its potential to improve the safety and efficacy of carotid endoluminal repair is stimulating substantial interest. Similarly, color flow IVUS provides greater understanding for the operator of blood flow, and the interface between the vessel wall and the blood stream, lumen size, and success of treatment. Color flow IVUS does not use the Doppler effect, but creates real-time images that resemble color flow Doppler ultrasound. These two technological advances in IVUS have greatly improved the ability of the endovascular specialist to understand the arterial disease they are treating and to assess the completion of treatment.

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