Enhanced delineation of degradation in aortic walls through OCT
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AuthorReal Peña, Eusebio; Val Bernal, José Fernando; Revuelta Soba, José Manuel; Pontón Cortina, Alejandro; Calvo Díez, Marta; Mayorga Fernández, Marta María; López Higuera, José Miguel; Conde Portilla, Olga María
Degradation of the wall of human ascending thoracic aorta has been assessed through Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). OCT images of the media layer of the aortic wall exhibit micro-structure degradation in case of diseased aortas from aneurysmal vessels or in aortas prone to aortic dissections. The degeneration in vessel walls appears as low-reflectivity areas due to the invasive appearance of acidic polysaccharides and mucopolysaccharides within a typical ordered microstructure of parallel lamellae of smooth muscle cells, elastin and collagen fibers. An OCT indicator of wall degradation can be generated upon the spatial quantification of the extension of degraded areas in a similar way as conventional histopathology. This proposed OCT marker offers a real-time clinical insight of the vessel status to help cardiovascular surgeons in vessel repair interventions. However, the delineation of degraded areas on the B-scan image from OCT is sometimes difficult due to presence of speckle noise, variable SNR conditions on the measurement process, etc. Degraded areas could be outlined by basic thresholding techniques taking advantage of disorders evidences in B-scan images, but this delineation is not always optimum and requires complex additional processing stages. This work proposes an optimized delineation of degraded spots in vessel walls, robust to noisy environments, based on the analysis of the second order variation of image intensity of backreflection to determine the type of local structure. Results improve the delineation of wall anomalies providing a deeper physiological perception of the vessel wall conditions. Achievements could be also transferred to other clinical scenarios: carotid arteries, aorto-iliac or ilio-femoral sections, intracranial, etc.