Simulation of Atherosclerotic Plaque Growth

Specialeforsvar: Lene Lillemark Larsen


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of death in Europe. More than 4.3 million people in Europe die from CVD every year. This is nearly half of all the death in Europe (48 %). The underlying pathology of CVD is usually atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis develops over many years and is usually advanced by the time the symptoms occur. Death, myocardial infarction and stroke from CVD appear suddenly and before medical care is available. Risk factor modification like healthy diet, stop smoking and other life style changes have been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity of CVD. It is therefore essential to recognised the severity of CVD as early as possible and for that a deep understanding of the development of atherosclerosis is needed.

We present a novel method to analyse the growth of abdominal atherosclerotic plaques based on lateral X-ray projections. The growth analysis can aid in the understanding of the development of atherosclerosis. The deeper understanding may help in progression monitoring in clinical trials and in population screening programs and thereby lead to early diagnosis or better prevention of atherosclerosis.

Our results are based on a longitudinal study over 8.3 years, where the annotations of the calcifications and the aorta walls are matched longitudinally using thin plate spline registration, followed by a matching of the calcifications by nearest center of mass calculations. The growth of the calcifications is measured by analysing the distribution of the geometry statistics of the calcifications. The method was evaluated on 103 subjects with a total number of 611 calcifications. Our results show for instance longitudinal growth of the calcifications with a mean of 1.76 mm (+- 5.00) in the blood flow direction.

Eksaminator: Mads Nielsen, DIKU
Censor: Rasmus Larsen, DTU