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Konstantina S. Nikita

Computer-Aided Interpretation of Vascular Images towards Valid Diagnosis and Risk Stratification of Atherosclerosis
Konstantina S. Nikita
Professor and Deputy Head of Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the N.T.U.A., Athens, Greece


Atherosclerosis is a syndrome that affects arterial blood vessels, in which deposits of various substances, such as cholesterol, build up in the inner wall of an artery. This process may begin as early as childhood, its progression is chronic, slow, and cumulative and it finally leads to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Although atherosclerotic lesions may remain "silent" for decades, they constitute a usual cause of poor blood circulation, transient ischemic events, heart attacks, and strokes, thereby being strictly associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Considering that CVD is the leading cause of death in US and accounts for 41% of deaths in EU, valid detection and risk stratification of atherosclerosis represent a crucial public health challenge.
The degree of stenosis has traditionally been approved as a key point laboratory measurement for the therapeutic decision making (revascularization surgery or medication with statins) of atherosclerosis. However, several studies have proved that most cardiovascular disorders are associated with less severe stenosis, while high stenosis often remain asymptomatic. Given the substantial socio-economic cost of the disease and the risk to patient safety related to the limitations of the current clinical practice, there is an undoubted need for new diagnostic tools that will enhance validity in recognizing vulnerable plaques. To this end, advanced diagnostic procedures are being developed to identify novel risk markers which are related to geometry, morphology and mechanical properties of the arterial wall.
This talk will elucidate the contribution of computerized vascular image processing and analysis in the identification of sophisticated risk markers, including the intima-media thickness, wall shear strains, changes in arterial wall distensibility and the material distribution (fibers, blood, lipids) in atherosclerotic plaques, expressed in terms of texture properties. Advanced methodologies for segmentation, motion estimation and texture analysis of vascular images, as well as measurements derived by applying them to normal and diseased subjects will be presented. A modular software system incorporating these methodologies within a user-friendly environment to facilitate the management and processing of large amounts of imaging data in clinical practice will be illustrated, while the potential of semantic technology in vascular image annotation and retrieval will be discussed.


Konstantina S. Nikita received the Diploma in Electrical Engineering, and the Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering both from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). She then received her M.D. degree from the Medical School, University of Athens. In 1996, she joined the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the NTUA, where she is currently Professor and Deputy Head. Her current research interests include biomedical signal and image processing and analysis, biomedical informatics, biological effects and medical applications of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, and simulation of physiological systems. Dr. Nikita has authored or edited 8 books and authored or co-authored 160 journal papers and book chapters, and over 300 papers in international conference proceedings. She holds two patents. She has been the technical manager of several European and National Research and Development projects in the field of biomedical engineering. She is member of the Editorial Board of the ΙΕΕΕ Transactions on Biomedical Engineering and guest editor of several international journals. She has been the advisor of twenty completed Ph.D. theses, several of which have received various awards. Dr. Nikita has been the recipient of various honors/awards, among which, the Bodossakis Foundation Academic Prize for exceptional achievements in "Theory and Applications of Information Technology in Medicine" (2003). Dr. Nikita is a member of the Technical Chamber of Greece and the Athens Medical Association. She is also the Founding Chair and Ambassador of the ΙΕΕΕ EMBS Greece chapter, Vice Chair of the IEEE Greece Section, and member of the IEEE EMBS Education Committee. She is also a Fellow of the European Alliance for Medical and Biological Engineering and Science (EAMBES).