What is the role of intravascular ultrasonography (IVUS) in the anatomic assessment for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)?

Updated: Nov 27, 2019
  • Author: George A Stouffer, III, MD; Chief Editor: Karlheinz Peter, MD, PhD  more...
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Although coronary angiography provides a display of luminal narrowing in multiple planes and is useful in guiding PCI, it provides only limited information about the vessel wall, which is where the atherosclerotic process resides.

IVUS (see the image below) was developed to provide information about the plaque, the vessel wall, and the degree of luminal narrowing. It provides a tomographic cross-section of the vessel, allowing operators to gather significant qualitative and quantitative information that is potentially valuable for assessing stenosis severity and determining the true extent of atherosclerotic involvement.

Example of intravascular ultrasonography (IVUS) im Example of intravascular ultrasonography (IVUS) image in percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).

The lumen border and the media-adventitia interface are the key landmarks that should be identified during interrogation. Plaque can be distinguished from the lumen on the basis of differences in echogenicity. In addition to providing information about the amount and distribution of plaque, IVUS can identify features of plaque composition (eg, calcification and lipid collections) that may not be appreciated by angiography alone.

Frequent uses of IVUS include assessment of indeterminate lesions and evaluation of adequate stent deployment. The latter is particularly important, in that proper deployment of drug-eluting stents (DESs) is critical for reducing thrombosis rates. Development of other technologies (eg, OCT and plaque thermography) have enhanced our ability to interrogate coronary arteries.

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