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Radiology. 2001 Nov;221(2):285-99.

Carotid atherosclerotic plaque: noninvasive MR characterization and identification of vulnerable lesions.

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Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Box 357115, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Measurement of vessel stenosis by using ultrasonography or angiography remains the principal method for determining the severity of carotid atherosclerosis and the need for endarterectomy. The ipsilateral stroke rate, however--even in patients with severely stenotic vessels--is relatively low, which suggests that the amount of luminal narrowing may not represent the optimal means of assessing clinical risk. As a result, some patients may undergo unnecessary surgery. Improved imaging techniques are, therefore, needed to enable reliable identification of high-risk plaques that lead to cerebrovascular events. High-spatial-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has been described as one promising modality for this purpose, because the technique allows direct visualization of diseased vessel wall and can be used to characterize the morphology of individual atherosclerotic carotid plaques. The purpose of this report is to review the current state of carotid plaque MR imaging and the use of carotid MR to evaluate plaque morphology and composition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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