Congratulations to Zhao Wang from CWRU a Winner of a 2012 Student Travel Grant Award
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. The rupture of thin-cap fibroatheroma (TCFA) accounts for most acute coronary events. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is able to quantify the fibrous cap (FC) thickness in vivo. Conventional analysis measuring the thinnest part of the FC is subject to inter-observer variability and does not capture the 3-D morphology of the FC. The aim of this study is to propose and validate a computer-aided method that allows volumetric analysis of FC.
We have developed a dynamic programming algorithm that allows segmentation of the FC boundaries automatically. The method is able to locate the optimum FC boundary with large intensity difference between the cap and the underlying lipid plaque, and also high gradient. Based on the segmentation, the thickness at every point of the FC boundary can be determined. In addition, for the first time, the volumetric metrics including the FC absolute and factional surface area, FC fractional luminal area and volume density, can be quantified. Validation studies against three experienced image analysts showed that the disagreement between the algorithm and the three analysts was comparable to that between human analysts in segmenting FC boundaries, and was fast (< 1s), and robust for practical use. The proposed method also allows the FC to be visualized in 3D with the thickness color-mapped on the entire cap.
The proposed method has a great potential to be used in clinic for fast, accurate and consistent volumetric quantification of FC. This may advance our understanding of the mechanisms behind plaque rupture.