What is an intravascular ultrasound?

An intravascular ultrasound is a minor procedure to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease. It is a catheter-based procedure that helps your doctor see how much your arteries have narrowed or thickened. Your doctor uses a very small ultrasound transducer on the catheter tip that makes images of the inside of your blood vessels and their walls. Doctors often use intravascular ultrasound during other cardiac catheterization procedures.

An intravascular ultrasound is only one method used to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease. Discuss all of your options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you. 

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may perform other procedures in addition to an intravascular ultrasound. These include:

  • Angioplasty, including balloon and laser catheter procedures to open a coronary artery

  • Atherectomy, which involves drilling or scraping away plaques to open a coronary artery

  • Brachytherapy, which involves delivering radiation to a coronary artery through a catheter to treat or prevent restenosis. Restenosis is recurrence of coronary artery narrowing after stenting.

  • Stenting, which involves inserting a mesh tube inside your coronary artery and expanding it to keep the artery open after angioplasty. Stents remain in place to keep your coronary artery open.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Nov 5, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Intravascular Ultrasound. Cleveland Clinic.
  2. Intravascular Ultrasound. Texas Heart Institute.
  3. Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS). Cedars-Sinai.
  4. Nissen SE, Yock P. Intravascular ultrasound: novel pathophysiological insights and current clinical applications. Circulation. 2001 Jan 30;103(4):604-16.

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