Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death in developed countries. Most of them are caused by arterial (specially coronary) diseases, mainly caused by plaque accumulation. Such pathology narrows blood flow (stenosis) and affects artery bio-mechanical elastic properties (atherosclerosis). In the last decades, IntraVascular UltraSound (IVUS) has become a usual imaging technique for the diagnosis and follow up of arterial diseases. IVUS is a catheter-based imaging technique which shows a sequence of cross sections of the artery under study. Inspection of a single image gives information about the percentage of stenosis. Meanwhile, inspection of longitudinal views provides information about artery bio-mechanical properties, which can prevent a fatal outcome of the cardiovascular disease. On one hand, dynamics of arteries (due to heart pumping among others) is a major artifact for exploring tissue bio-mechanical properties. On the other one, manual stenosis measurements require a manual tracing of vessel borders, which is a time-consuming task and might suffer from inter-observer variations.
This PhD thesis proposes several image processing tools for exploring vessel dynamics and structures. We present a physics-based model to extract, analyze and correct vessel in-plane rigid dynamics and to retrieve cardiac phase. Furthermore, we introduce a deterministic-statistical method for automatic vessel borders detection. In particular, we address adventitia layer segmentation. An accurate validation protocol to ensure reliable clinical applicability of the methods is a crucial step in any proposal of an algorithm. In this thesis we take special care in designing a validation protocol for each approach proposed and we contribute to the in vivo dynamics validation with a quantitative and objective score to measure the amount of motion suppressed.