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Radiol Clin North Am. 2002 Jul;40(4):887-98.

MR imaging of atherosclerotic plaque.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


MRI is a powerful noninvasive imaging tool with high spatial resolution that continues to prove its value in determining atherosclerotic plaque size, volume, and tissue components. Multispectral MRI sequences have been validated to characterize atherosclerotic plaque components in animals; they have recently been applied to human aorta and carotid artery and are being used to identify the vulnerable plaque. The ability to measure wall thickness in human coronary artery wall has been realized. Future developments may allow plaque characterization in the coronary arteries with surface coil imaging, but intravascular MRI may play an important role in this regard. Novel contrast agents for identifying inflammation and thrombus within atherosclerotic plaque will aid in the identification of higher-risk atherosclerotic disease. Lastly, MRI has progressed to the point where it can be used in serial studies of atherosclerotic plaque progression and regression in the face of therapeutic intervention. MRI will continue to evolve an important role in imaging of atherosclerotic plaque.

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