MicroCT of Coronary Stents: Staining Techniques for 3-D Pathological Analysis
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In the area of translational research, stent developers consult pathologists to obtain the best and most complete amount of data from implanted test devices in the most efficient manner. Through the use of micron-scale computed tomography along with post-fixation staining techniques in this study, full volumes of previously implanted stents have been analyzed in-situ in a non-destructive manner. The increased soft tissue contrast imparted by metal-containing stains allowed for a qualitative analysis of the vessel’s response to the implant with greater sensitivity and specificity while reducing beam-hardening artifact from stent struts. The developed staining techniques included iodine-potassium iodide, phosphomolybdic acid, and phosphotungstic acid, all of which bind to soft tissue and improve image quality through their ability to attenuate high energy X-rays. With these stains, the overall soft tissue contrast increased by up to 85 percent and contrast between medial and neointimal layers of the vessel increased by up to 22 percent. Beam hardening artifact was also reduced by up to 38 percent after staining. Acquiring data from the entirety of the stent and the surrounding tissue increased the quality of stent analysis in multiple ways. The three dimensional data enabled a comprehensive analysis of stent performance, lending information such as neointimal hyperplasia, percent stenosis, delineation of vessel wall layers, stent apposition, and stent fractures. By providing morphological data about stent deployment and host response, this method circumvents the need to make the more traditional histology slides for a morphometric analysis. These same data may also be applied to target regions of interest to ensure histology slides are cut from the optimal locations for a more in-depth analysis. The agents involved in such techniques are readily available in most pathology laboratories, are safe to work with, and allow for rapid processing of tissue. The ability to forego histology altogether or to highly focus what histology is performed on a vessel has the potential to hasten the development process of any coronary stent.
Darrouzet, Stephen 1987- (2011). MicroCT of Coronary Stents: Staining Techniques for 3-D Pathological Analysis. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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