Although ultrasonography is an important cost-effective imaging modality, technical improvements are needed before its full potential is realized for accurate and reproducible monitoring of carotid disease and plaque burden. 2D viewing of 3D anatomy, using conventional ultrasonography limits our ability to quantify and visualize carotid disease and is partly responsible for the reported variability in diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression. Efforts of investigators have focused on overcoming these deficiencies by developing 3D ultrasound imaging techniques that are capable of acquiring B-mode, color Doppler and power Doppler images of the carotid arteries using existing conventional ultrasound systems, reconstructing the information into 3D images, and then allowing interactive viewing of the 3D images on inexpensive desktop computers. In addition, the availability of 3D ultrasound images of the carotid arteries has allowed the development of techniques to quantify plaque volume and surface morphology as well as allowing registration with other 3D imaging modalities. This paper describes 3D ultrasound imaging techniques used to image the carotid arteries and summarizes some of the developments aimed at quantifying plaque volume and morphology.
Keywords: 3d ultrasound imaging, carotid arteries, ultrasonography, plaque volume
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