Performance Comparison of Ultrasound-Based Methods to Assess Aortic Diameter and Stiffness in Normal and Aneurysmal Mice
Objective Several ultrasound-based methods are currently used to assess aortic diameter, circumferential strain and stiffness in mice, but none of them is flawless and a gold standard is lacking. We aimed to assess the validity and sensitivity of these methods in control animals and animals developing dissecting abdominal aortic aneurysm. Methods and Results We first compared systolic and diastolic diameters as well as local circumferential strains obtained in 47 Angiotensin II-infused ApoE(-/-) mice with three different techniques (BMode, short axis MMode, long axis MMode), at two different abdominal aortic locations (supraceliac and paravisceral), and at three different time points of abdominal aneurysm formation (baseline, 14 days and 28 days). We found that short axis BMode was preferred to assess diameters, but should be avoided for strains. Short axis MMode gave good results for diameters but high standard deviations for strains. Long axis MMode should be avoided for diameters, and was comparable to short axis MMode for strains. We then compared pulse wave velocity measurements using global, ultrasound-based transit time or regional, pressure-based transit time in 10 control and 20 angiotensin II-infused, anti-TGF-Beta injected C57BL/6 mice. Both transit-time methods poorly correlated and were not able to detect a significant difference in PWV between controls and aneurysms. However, a combination of invasive pressure and MMode diameter, based on radio-frequency data, detected a highly significant difference in local aortic stiffness between controls and aneurysms, with low standard deviation. Conclusions In small animal ultrasound the short axis view is preferred over the long axis view to measure aortic diameters, local methods are preferred over transit-time methods to measure aortic stiffness, invasive pressure-diameter data are preferred over non-invasive strains to measure local aortic stiffness, and the use of radiofrequency data improves the accuracy of diameter, strain as well as stiffness measurements.