Santhosh Koshy, M.D., University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Currently available intravascular imaging techniques that are used in clinical practice, have major limitations related to resolution and ease of imaging. There have been major innovations in the field of imaging to improve on these limitations and to incorporate novel imaging techniques that venture beyond the traditional delineation of anatomical intravascular structures. Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) imaging and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) are now widely used in clinical practice. However the frustrating impediment of lack of high grade resolution has been a major handicap for clinicians. Advances in ultrasound and tomographic physics have made possible major path breaking initiatives to improve axial, lateral and temporal resolutions. Ease of imaging has improved with technological advancement in catheter designs and in techniques that allow tomographic imaging without interrupting blood flow. Tissue imaging of subcellular components and chemicals can be combined with traditional imaging to obtain additional valuable information. Near infrared spectroscopy and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy are two novel imaging techniques that have potential to be incorporated into the traditional imaging techniques like IVUS, OCT, angioscopy, Computerized Tomographic angiography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Hybrid techniques involving two or more imaging methods will improve the applicability and utility of intravascular imaging in clinical practice.