New York: Spotting the risk of a heart attack could be a lot easier as researchers are now close to commercialising a new laser-based technology that can produce precise three-dimensional images of plaques in the walls of arteries.
The new technology called intravascular photoacoustic imaging measures ultrasound signals from molecules exposed to a fast-pulsing laser.
"The system takes precise three-dimensional images of plaques lining arteries and identifies deposits that are likely to rupture and cause heart attacks, said Ji-Xin Cheng, professor at the Purdue University in Indiana, in the US.
The imaging reveals the presence of carbon-hydrogen bonds making up lipid molecules in arterial plaques that cause heart disease.
"This allows us to see the exact nature of plaque formation in the walls of arteries so we can define whether plaque is going to rupture," said Michael Sturek, co-author of the paper and a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
"Some plaques are more dangerous than others, but one needs to know the chemical makeup of the blood vessel wall to determine which ones are at risk of rupturing," Sturek added.
The researchers used a Raman laser that produces 2,000 pulses per second, each pulse capable of generating an image, representing a 100-fold increase in the imaging speed of the such technology.
The technology is being commercialised by the company Vibronix Inc., co-founded by Cheng and Purdue postdoctoral research associate, Pu Wang.
The findings appeared online in the journal Scientific Reports.