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A novel approach for platform-independent virtual endoscopy in human coronary arteries is presented in this paper. It incorporates previously developed and validated methodology for multimodality fusion of two X-ray angiographic images with pullback data from intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). These modalities pose inherently different challenges than those present in many tomographic modalities that provide parallel slices. The fusion process results in a three- or four-dimensional (3-D/4-D) model of a coronary artery, specifically of its lumen/plaque and media/adventitia surfaces. The model is used for comprehensive quantitative hemodynamic, morphologic, and functional analyses. The resulting quantitative indexes are then used to supplement the model. Platform-independent visualization is achieved through the use of the ISO/IEC-standardized Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). The visualization includes an endoscopic fly-through animation that enables the user to interactively select vessel location and fly-through speed, as well as to display image pixel data or quantification results in 3-D. The presented VRML virtual-endoscopy system is used in research studies of coronary atherosclerosis development, quantitative assessment of coronary morphology and function, and vascular interventions.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2004