Athosclerosis Project

Supervisors: Dr. Amer Johri, Cardiology and Prof. Parvin Mousavi, ECE and Computing

Contact: pmousavi at

Atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries due to plaque deposits, is a progressive, silent, and deadly disease. It is the main cause of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease, together known as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD). ACVD is one of the main causes of death in Canadians (25,961 deaths in 2009 in Ontario alone) costing more than $20.9 billion every year. The coronary (heart) and carotid (neck) vessels are part of the same vascular tree, however, where the coronary arteries cannot be easily imaged non-invasively, the carotid artery is a superficial vessel in the neck from which highly detailed images can be obtained. Vulnerable plaque is defined as plaque at high risk for rupture, leading to thrombosis, and, depending on its location, causing myocardial infarction or stroke. Developing methods of detecting vulnerable plaque is key in the prevention of cardiovascular events. Carotid plaque quantification is now possible in 2D and 3D using commercial software, but the detection of vulnerable components such as texture, and ulceration have yet to be established. No single software is able to provide this type of analysis or available on the market.

Under the guidance of Dr. Amer Johri and that of Dr. Parvin Mousavi, the student(s) will develop segmentation approaches and features for carotid plaque analysis from 2D and 3D ultrasound images. To evaluate the accuracy of these techniques, data from retrospective in vivo ultrasound images acquired at the Cardiovascular Imaging Network at KGH will be used. The tools and computational methods will be developed in Matlab and Slicer 3D (an open source medical image visualization and analysis environment).