Intravascular ultrasound assessment of lumen size and wall morphology in normal subjects and patients with coronary artery disease

S. E. Nissen, J. C. Gurley, C. L. Grines, D. C. Booth, R. McClure, M. Berk, C. Fischer, A. N. DeMaria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

618 Scopus citations


Background. Necropsy studies demonstrate that coronary artery disease (CAD) is frequently complex and eccentric. However, angiography provides only a silhouette of the vessel lumen. Intravascular ultrasound is a new tomographic imaging method for evaluation of coronary dimensions and wall morphology. Few data exist regarding intravascular ultrasound in patients with CAD, and no data exist for subjects with normal coronaries. Methods and Results. We used a multielement 5.5F, 20-MHz ultrasound catheter to examine eight normal subjects and 43 patients with CAD. We assessed the safety of coronary ultrasound and the effect of vessel eccentricity on comparison of minimum luminal diameter by angiography and ultrasound. Normal and atherosclerotic wall morphology and stenosis severity were also evaluated by intravascular ultrasound. The only untoward effect was transient coronary spasm in five patients. At 33 sites in normal subjects, the lumen was nearly circular, yielding a close correlation between angiographic and ultrasonic minimum diameter (r=0.92). At 90 sites in patients with CAD, ultrasound demonstrated a concentric cross section; correlation was also close (r=0.93). However, at 72 eccentric sites, correlation was not as close (r=0.77). For 41 stenoses, correlation between angiography and ultrasound for area reduction was moderate (r=0.63). In normal subjects, wall morphology revealed a thin (0.30 mm or less) intimal leading edge and subadjacent sonolucent zone (0.20 mm or less). Patients with CAD exhibited increased thickness and echogenicity of the leading edge, thickened sonolucent zones, and/or attenuation of ultrasound transmission. Conclusions. These data establish that intravascular ultrasound is feasible and safe and yields luminal measurements that correlate generally with angiography. Differences between angiographic and ultrasonic measures of lumen size in eccentric vessels probably reflect the dissimilar perspectives of tomographic and silhouette imaging techniques. Intravascular ultrasound provides detailed images of normal and abnormal wall morphology not previously possible in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1099
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Ultrasound, intravascular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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