A Review on Atherosclerotic Biology, Wall Stiffness, Physics of Elasticity, and Its Ultrasound-Based Measurement
Functional and structural changes in the common carotid artery are biomarkers for cardiovascular risk. Current methods for measuring functional changes include pulse wave velocity, compliance, distensibility, strain, stress, stiffness, and elasticity derived from arterial waveforms. The review is focused on the ultrasound-based carotid artery elasticity and stiffness measurements covering the physics of elasticity and linking it to biological evolution of arterial stiffness. The paper also presents evolution of plaque with a focus on the pathophysiologic cascade leading to arterial hardening. Using the concept of strain, and image-based elasticity, the paper then reviews the lumen diameter and carotid intima-media thickness measurements in combined temporal and spatial domains. Finally, the review presents the factors which influence the understanding of atherosclerotic disease formation and cardiovascular risk including arterial stiffness, tissue morphological characteristics, and image-based elasticity measurement.