Background: In peripheral artery disease, two different types of calcification are frequently observed, i.e., medial and intimal calcification.
Aims: The aim of this study was to determine the ability of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging and optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI) to detect medial and intimal calcification in human peripheral arteries.
Methods: We performed ex vivo intravascular imaging of cadaveric human peripheral arteries with calcifications. IVUS and OFDI images were co-registered with histology. A total of 12 legs from nine patients were examined, and 438 cross-sectional images were co-registered with histology.
Results: OFDI could detect 183 of 231 intimal calcifications by histology, whereas IVUS could detect 194 (OFDI: sensitivity 79%, specificity 86%, area under the curve [AUC] 0.83; IVUS: sensitivity 84%, specificity 85%, AUC 0.85). Of 245 medial calcifications by histology, 160 and 164 were detected by OFDI and IVUS, respectively (OFDI: sensitivity 65%, specificity 85%, AUC 0.75; IVUS: sensitivity 67%, specificity 80%, AUC 0.74). Medial calcification with overlying intimal calcification (overlapped calcification) and an unclear border between intima and media were the main reasons for misdiagnosis. Without those 89 overlapped calcifications, sensitivity in both OFDI and IVUS was improved (OFDI: sensitivity 81%, specificity 85%, AUC 0.83; IVUS: sensitivity 88%, specificity 80%, AUC 0.84).
Conclusions: There are limitations in detecting medial calcification in overlapped intimal calcification and with an unclear border between intima and media by both IVUS and OFDI. It is important to distinguish medial calcification from intimal calcification before proceeding with endovascular therapy since different approaches will be required.