Analyzer-based phase-contrast x-ray imaging of carotid plaque microstructure

Alyssa A. Appel, Cheng Ying Chou, Howard P. Greisler, Jeffery C. Larson, Sunil Vasireddi, Zhong Zhong, Mark A. Anastasio, Eric M. Brey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Plaque vulnerability depends, in part, on composition. Imaging techniques are needed that can aid the prediction of plaque stability. High-contrast images of soft-tissue structure have been obtained with x-ray phase-contrast (PC) imaging. This research investigates multiple image radiography (MIR), an x-ray PC imaging technique, for evaluation of human carotid artery plaques. Methods: Carotid plaques were imaged with ultrasound and subsequently excised and formalin fixed. MIR imaging was performed. By using synchrotron radiation, conventional radiographs were acquired for comparison. Image texture measures were computed for soft-tissue regions of the plaques. Results: Ultrasound evaluation identified plaques as homogeneous without calcifications. MIR images revealed complex heterogeneous structure with multiple microcalcifications consistent with histology, and possessed more image texture in specific regions than conventional radiographs (P <.05). MIR refraction images allowed imaging of the geometric structure of tissue interfaces within the plaques, while scatter images contained more texture in soft-tissue regions than absorption or refraction images. Conclusions: X-ray PC imaging better depicts plaque soft-tissue heterogeneity than ultrasound or conventional radiographs. MIR imaging technique should be investigated further as a viable imaging technique to identify high-risk plaques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-636
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular imaging
  • Carotid stenosis
  • Computerized tomography
  • Phase contrast X-ray imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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