Imaging of the blood vessels has always been an important tool in assessing hemodynamics and severity of lesions involving the cardiovascular system. Since the first arteriogram was successfully performed in 1929 to view an artery, the focus has been on trying to provide the highest-quality vascular image.Initially, this was done primarily with the use of traditional X-ray technology with direct catheterization of the arterial system. Subsequently, ultrasound became a noninvasive modality to study the cardiovascular system. More recently, with advances in CT and MRI technology, these modalities are being used more and more to provide noninvasive detailed imaging of the vessels as well as 3-dimensional and even real-time imaging. As technology improves with regard to all of these modalities, the chances of diagnosing conditions such as atherosclerosis earlier become greater. The earlier we can detect these conditions, the more likely we may be able to prevent entities such as coronary artery disease, stroke, and myocardial infarction. As spatial and temporal resolution improves with regard to ultrasound, CT and MRI, these modalities will be used increasingly to identify patients who may need more invasive angiography for potential treatment.
Ultrasound as an Early Imaging Tool