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Optical imaging technique for angioplasty

A new optical imaging technique described in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, which is published by the American Institute of Physics, holds the potential to greatly improve angioplasty, a surgery commonly performed to treat patients with a partially or completely blocked coronary artery that restricts blood flow to the heart.

Angioplasty involves threading a slender, balloon-tipped tube from an artery in the groin to the trouble spot in the artery of the heart. The balloon is then inflated to compress the plaque that is blocking the artery. These balloons can also be used to deploy a stent, which is a wire-mesh tube sometimes inserted into the artery during an angioplasty procedure to keep it open and prevent reblockage.

In both cases, an optimal balloon design is critical to the success of an operation. Balloons can now be tested in a balloon deployment tester equipped with a system to monitor the outer diameter of the balloon, according to Guy Lamouche, research officer at the National Research Council of Canada.

With the goal of improving balloon deployment, the researchers investigated obtaining a more precise monitoring of balloon inflation by combining a deployment tester with an optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging system. OCT allows imaging over a depth of a few millimeters in a tissue or material. By performing a pullback (rotation and translation) of a catheter OCT probe in a balloon, they discovered that it's possible to obtain a precise measurement of the balloon's diameter and thickness over the entire balloon.

"Combining OCT with a balloon deployment system provides an improved platform for angioplasty balloon development and can also be used in the development of next-generation minimally invasive devices for percutaneous -- through the skin -- coronary interventions," says Lamouche. "It's now possible to monitor balloon inflation within an artery phantom (model) or an excised artery to assess the efficiency of innovative balloon angioplasty or stent deployment procedures."

The article, "Optical coherence tomography monitoring of angioplasty balloon inflation in a deployment tester" by Hamed Azarnoush, Sebastien Vergnole, Rafik Bourezak, Benoit Boulet, and Guy Lamouche will appear in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

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Image Caption: Cross-sectional imaging of how balloon inflation in a three-layer phantom mimics a coronary artery. These images show different balloon inflation pressure: a.) partially folded balloon without pressure, b.) partially inflated balloon, c.) an inflated balloon, and d.) OCT probe rotating within a balloon (no phantom), the red dot indicates where the light beam exits the probe. Note: Imaging is performed with infrared light, but visible light is coupled in the system to ease identifying probe location.


Review of Scientific Instruments, published by the American Institute of Physics, is devoted to scientific instruments, apparatus, and techniques. Its contents include original and review articles on instruments in physics, chemistry, and the life sciences; and sections on new instruments and new materials. One volume is published annually. Conference proceedings are occasionally published and supplied in addition to the Journal's scheduled monthly issues. RSI publishes information on instruments, apparatus, techniques of experimental measurement, and related mathematical analysis. Since the use of instruments is not confined to the physical sciences, the journal welcomes contributions from any of the physical and biological sciences and from related cross-disciplinary areas of science and technology. See:


The American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world's largest publishers of scientific information in the physical sciences. Offering partnership solutions for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP is a leader in the field of electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields), two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.

Jason Bardi | EurekAlert!
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