Noninvasive Vascular Elastography: Theoretical Framework

Roch L. Maurice, Jacques Ohayon, Yves Frétigny, Michel Bertrand, Gilles Soulez, Guy Cloutier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Changes in vessel wall elasticity may be indicative of vessel pathologies. It is known, for example, that the presence of plaque stiffens the vascular wall, and that the heterogeneity of its composition may lead to plaque rupture and thrombosis. Another domain of application where ultrasound elastography may be of interest is the study of vascular wall elasticity to predict the risk of aneurysmal tissue rupture. In this paper, this technology is introduced as an approach to noninvasively characterize superficial arteries. In such a case, a linear array ultrasound transducer is applied on the skin over the region of interest, and the arterial tissue is dilated by the normal cardiac pulsation. The elastograms, the equivalent elasticity images, are computed from the assessment of the vascular tissue motion. Investigating the forward problem, it is shown that motion parameters might be difficult to interpret; that is because tissue motion occurs radially within the vessel wall while the ultrasound beam propagates axially. As a consequence of that, the elastograms are subjected to hardening and softening artefacts, which are to be counteracted. In this paper, the Von Mises (VM) coefficient is proposed as a new parameter to circumvent such mechanical artefacts and to appropriately characterize the vessel wall. Regarding the motion assessment, the Lagrangian estimator was used; that is because it provides the full two-dimensional strain tensor necessary to compute the VM coefficient. The theoretical model was validated with biomechanical simulations of the vascular wall properties. The results allow believing in the potential of the method to differentiate hard plaques and lipid pools from normal vascular tissue. Potential in vivo implementation of noninvasive vascular elastography to characterize abdominal aneurysms and superficial arteries such as the femoral and the carotid is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-180
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Mathematical modeling
  • Mechanical properties
  • Noninvasive scanning
  • Ultrasound elastography
  • Vascular pathologies
  • Vascular wall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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