Characterization of aortic microstructure with ultrasound: implications for mechanisms of aortic function and dissection.

IEEE transactions on ultrasonics, ferroelectrics, and frequency control

PubMedID: 12484479

Nguyen CT, Hall CS, Wickline SA. Characterization of aortic microstructure with ultrasound: implications for mechanisms of aortic function and dissection. IEEE Trans Ultrason Ferroelectr Freq Control. 2002;49(11):1561-71.
Specific ultrasonic tissue characterization parameters were correlated with the three-dimensional architecture and material properties (density, compressibility, size, and orientation) of aortic elastic elements at the microscopic level. The medial layer of 10 samples of normal canine aorta were insonified in vitro utilizing acoustic microscopy from 30 to 44 MHz. The following quantitative indexes exhibited substantial anisotropic elastic behavior in radial (R), circumferential (C), and longitudinal (L) directions: backscatter coefficient (R:0.9 +/- 0.2; C:0.008 +/- 0.0008; LL:0.0077 +/- 0.0008 sr(-1) cm(-1)); frequency dependence of backscatter (R:3.3; C:1.4; L:1.5); attenuation coefficients 1(R:105 +/- 22; L:135 +/- 13; C:131 +/- 14 dB/cm). Thus, the ultrasonic indexes are anisotropic: equivalent in the C and L directions, but markedly different in the R direction. These data are indicative of an aortic microstructure that interacts with ultrasonic waves as thin sheet-like elastic layers instead of independent elastin fibers. This specific sheet-like organization of elastin microfibers may function to limit shear injury to concentric aortic lamellae and prevent aortic dissection. The marked anisotropic behavior of normal aortas suggests that ultrasound may be useful for nondestructive characterization of vascular integrity.