• Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)


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    Dr. Sandeep Nathan, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, describes the role of IVUS in treatment decisions.

    Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), like any form of ultrasound, uses sound waves to create images of a part of the body. IVUS is used to gather images of the inside of arteries to find out if a blockage is present, and if so, to what extent. 

    How Does Intravascular Ultrasound Work?

    During an IVUS test a tiny tube (catheter)  - only about 1 millimeter in width - with an ultrasound probe at the end is threaded over a guidewire in the artery to the area to be tested. The ultrasound catheter sends out sound waves and receives echoes from the sound waves as they bounce back from the body’s tissues. These echoes are translated by a computer into images of the artery.

    IVUS is useful in assessing lesions that appear to be of borderline severity on an angiogram. IVUS can measure the amount of plaque inside a blood vessel. Plaque is a fatty substance that builds up in blood vessels, eventually restricting blood flow through that vessel. The test can also help to optimize angioplasty procedures to reopen blocked arteries and can also provide information helpful in placing stents, which are tiny metal tubes that are placed in arteries to permanently prop them open when a blockage is cleared.

    How Is Intravascular Ultrasound Performed?

    Intravascular ultrasound may be performed as part of a cardiac catheterization.

    Is Intravascular Ultrasound Safe?

    Intravascular ultrasound slightly increases the risks of a diagnostic cardiac catheterization.

    Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)

    The following questions can help you talk to your physician about having an angiogram. Consider printing out or writing down these questions and taking them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.

    • Why might IVUS be beneficial for me?
    • What individual risks will IVUS present for me?

    Please print this list of questions here. Take them with you to the doctor and share them with friends and loved ones when you are encouraging them to see their doctors.