Laser technology helps detecting lipid in coronary arteries

Heart attacks triggered by coronary thrombosis are amongst the leading causes of death worldwide. As this Acute Coronary Disease (ACD) is caused by the rupture of atherosclerotic plaque (Coronary Artery Disease, CAD), the vulnerability of this plaque - more precisely its lipid-rich necrotic core - serves as an indicator for the probability of heart attacks and helps to determine the appropriate treatment.

While catheter-based ultrasound is the state-of-the-art for in-vivo imaging of atherosclerotic plaque, a new technology called Intravascular Photoacoustic Imaging (IVPA) now provides advanced determination of different tissue types with a good resolution (~50 µm) and reasonable imaging depth. IVPA imaging works by generating an acoustic signal by specific optical absorption by the tissue of short (ns) laser pulses of variable optical wavelengths. Insufficient speed (10 Hz to 50 Hz pulse rates) and wavelength range of the laser systems make IVPA a tedious and complex procedure, but a custom laser solution developed by UK-based laser specialist Elforlight (recently acquired by AMS Technologies) is now speeding things up significantly with a 5-kHz tunable laser source. Scientific studies have shown that the resulting system is capable of imaging lipid in human coronary artery samples at 20 fps (frames per second).

About the Author

Dr. Min Wu, TU Eindhoven
Min Wu is currently a postdoc researcher in photoacoustic imaging at the department of biomedical engineering, TU Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Her research interest includes photoacoustic imaging, ultrasound imaging and spectroscopy. She received her BSc. in electronic information engineering from Wuhan University, Wuhan, China in 2006. She received her first PhD degree in communication and information system at the same university in 2011. After that, she moved to the Netherlands and received her second PhD degree in intravascular photoacoustics at Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands, under the guidance of Dr. Gijs van Soest and Prof. Antonius F. W. van der Steen in 2017.


AMS Technologies, Martinsried, Germany
AMS Technologies is Europe’s leading solution provider and distributor for Optical, Power and Thermal Management Technologies. From a network of local offices in Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Sweden, AMS Technologies has supported the European market for more than 30 years with leading, innovative technologies and solutions that allow customers to take prime position in their chosen high-tech markets including renewable energies, medical, defence & aerospace, research & scientific and various other industrial segments.