October 14, 2008

New Tomography Best for Detecting Plaque

South Korean scientists say a new scanning technology -- optical coherence tomography -- might be the best way to detect coronary artery vulnerable plaque.

Vulnerable plaque, or VP, has been identified as a possible cause of sudden cardiac death, most of which occurs in patients with no history of heart disease. The researchers said VP is different from fibrotic, calcified plaque that grows gradually until a lesion occludes an artery. VP is susceptible to sudden rupture, swiftly forming a clot that blocks the flow of blood through a coronary artery, causing a heart attack.

In the new study, a team of researchers at Ajou University School of Medicine in Suwon, Korea, discovered OCT provides superior contrast and resolution in imaging the components of plaque in coronary arteries versus other methods. Lead investigator Dr. Choi So-yeon said, "OCT may answer longstanding questions about the relationship between VP and the risk of heart attack."

The research is being presented this week in Washington during the 20th annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium, sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.