Destruction of atherosclerotic plaque using therapeutic ultrasound

The disease of coronary heart disease, which is due to artery blockage due atherosclerosis, is the leading cause of death worldwide . In 2006 there were an estimated 4.35 million deaths the 52 Member States of the European region according to the World Health Organization (WHO) due to coronary disease. Cardiovascular disease is generally estimated to cost the European economy EU 169 billion euros per year. Improved treatments are always welcome. The objective of this proposal is to create therapeutic ultrasound system for the removal of atherosclerotic plaque of coronary arteries. The treatment will be guided by magnetic resonance imaging. Ultrasound can heat or break plaques plate into small particles and may yield better therapeutic results than existing methods. Initially we will conduct simulation studies, aiming to calculate the optimum parameters for the two treatment protocols. One protocol is based on the thermal properties of ultrasound, while the other on mechanical properties. Prior to the treatment (mechanical) ultrasound contrast agent will be injected so that ultrasound can act with their mechanical properties (cavitation) and therefore can break the plaques efficiently and break the plaque in small particles. An ultrasonic source will be developed which is integrated in the catheter so that it can destroy plaques with the thermal or mechanical properties of ultrasound . Because the ultrasound source used in the MRI , the materials used will be non- magnetic. Because the type of application concerns vessels will use the following techniques for MRI: Fast spin echo (FSE), fast spoiled gradient (FSPGR) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). These three methods are , clinically acceptable with regard to the heart , but we need to examine whether they can monitor the effect of therapeutic ultrasound on removing atherosclerotic plaques. We will apply both methods in in vitro model aiming to destroy plaques. Finally we apply both methods in real application on live rabbits. The plaque will be created deliberately in rabbits using special high cholesterol diet. The effects of the therapeutic ultrasound will analyzed using histological examinations. The final product which will be created by this program will be Integrated system for therapeutic destruction of plaques (including ultrasonic source, hardware, software and procedure).

This project is funded by the Research Promotion foundation of Cyprus. ( and the European regional development structural funds (project number ΕΠΙΧΕΙΡΗΣΕΙΣ/ΠΡΟΪΟΝ/0311/01

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