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3D histology of the carotid artery

Investigators: Astrid Moerman (BME) , Erik-Jan Postema (BME), Kristina Dilba (BME), Stefan Klein (BIGR), Kim van Gaalen (BME), Antonius F.W.van der Steen (BME), Aad van der Lugt (Radiologie), Wiro J.Niessen (BIGR), Ellen Rouwet (Surgery), Hence Verhagen (Surgery), Jolanda J. Wentzel (BME), Frank Gijsen (BME), Kim van der Heiden (BME) 


This project aims at establishing the spatial relation between 3D in vivo carotid artery plaque imaging data, and a stack of histological slices of surgically excised plaque specimens. This project is an interdisciplinary project that involves several departments including Biomedical engineering, Radiology ad Surgery. Before the patient undergoes carotid endarterectomy of the plaque a MRI scan of the carotid artery is performed. This MRI scan includes several sequences so that the lumen and different palque components in the vessel wall can be identified. For the purpose of shear stress calculations, also a phase contrast sequence is applied at the entrance of the common carotid artery and at the internal carotid artery to obtain the flow at both sites. After endarterectomy, the palque is collected and stored. During histological processing of the plaque ex-vivo imaging (MRI, CT) and enface photography is performed in order to allow 3D reconstruction of the artery.

3D reconstruction

First, we stack the 2D histological cross sections into a 3D volume applying a semi-automatic registration approach. During this registration several intermediate images such as, ex vivo MRI and CT and enface photographs are used. Subsequently we spatially relate the 3D histological volume to the 3D in vivo data (CTA, MRI). In some transitions from one modality to the other, the specimen can be modelled as a rigid object; in other stages, deformable registrations is required.  (Animation).

Application of 3D reconstruction

The 3D histology can be used for several purposes. Since the histological cross sections are very precisely registered to in vivo non-ivasive imaging, our approach can be used for the validation of segmentation algorithms of non-invasive imaging modalities. Furthemore, blood flow simulations can be carried out to calculate the wall shear stress in these 3D geometries in order to relate biomechanical forces and information obtained by histology. Information of the plaque composition in this 3D geometries allows for stress calculations in these plaques.

, based on the in vivo modalities, blood-flow simulations are carried out to calculate the wall shear stress in order to relate biomechanical forces and information obtained on the registered histological information.