Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) or Intracoronary Ultrasound

A variant of coronary angioplasty, IVUS creates a detailed cross-sectional view of a coronary artery instead of a silhouette image. This allows greater precision when determining the size, structure and distribution of a blockage. As in coronary angioplasty, a catheter is introduced into the arterial system through an incision in the groin and threaded through the arterial system to the origin of the coronary artery. A tiny ultrasound device is then introduced through this catheter and threaded into the coronary artery. As the catheter is advanced through the vessel, ultrasound waves are reflected off the vessel walls and are picked up creating a two dimensional image of the lumen (opening) of the vessel. Any narrowing of the opening or thickening of the walls can be seen on a television screen connected to the device.

While angiography is still considered the standard for diagnosing obstructions of the coronary arteries, IVUS can be a useful tool in evaluating questionable blockages in the vessels