Table of Contents:

  1. What is intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)?
  2. What does it consist of?
  3. Why is it performed?
  4. How to prepare for IVUS
  5. What does the test feel like?
  6. What the results mean

What is intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)?

Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is a diagnostic technique for monitoring the condition of a coronary artery through images collected with an ultrasound probe. It is particularly suitable for assessing the condition of the blood vessel, possible atherosclerosis plaques and whether a stent has been inserted correctly.

What does it consist of?

Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is performed by means of an ultrasound probe inserted in a catheter that is introduced into the coronary arteries up to the affected point. The probe emits ultrasounds, which reach the vessel and are then picked up by the machine, where they are processed into images.
The catheter is introduced into an artery through the groin area and must reach the heart. In the meantime, a computer evaluates the way in which the blood vessel waves are reflected and transforms them into images.
It is an invasive test that is performed under anesthesia, usually after coronary angiography, as a diagnostic deepening.

Unlike angiography, it provides images of the walls of the arteries and detects the existence of cholesterol or fat deposits. If it is determined that there is an accumulation of these plaques, a cardiovascular risk may be diagnosed.

Why is it performed?

Intravascular ultrasound is performed to obtain a more complete view of vessels suspected of having atherosclerotic blockages or to check the result of stent placement.
It is often performed in addition to optical computed tomography (OCT) to check the status of plaques in the blood vessels to assess the patient’s cardiovascular health.

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It can be considered a secondary test because it is performed only after coronary angiography, when the latter has not produced satisfactory results.

Preparation and recovery for intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)

In the preparatory phase of the scan, tests are performed to check for allergies to the materials or anesthetics that will be used. The patient will be hospitalized and will have to undergo the fasting test.
After the test, the catheter is removed and a bandage is applied. In some cases, the specialist may ask the patient to lie on his or her back with groin pressure to prevent bleeding.

What does the test feel like?

The test is not painful as it is performed under anesthesia. After the test, the patient may experience some temporary discomfort in the area where the catheter was placed. A longer period of rest is usually required only if the catheter was inserted from the groin.

Significance of the results

Intravascular sound provides images with excellent resolution, making it possible to measure the severity of the lesions. In this sense, the results are of great help to specialists, as they provide information necessary to assess plaque composition, location within the vascular wall and the possibility of restenosis and thrombosis.
The application of IVUS makes it possible to detect the presence of plaque in the arteries, assess the degree of narrowing of the blood vessels, diagnose the existence of stenosis, enable more precise stenting and prevent the incidence of thrombosis.