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Stroke. 2005 Dec;36(12):2764-72. Epub 2005 Nov 10.

The vulnerable carotid artery plaque: current imaging methods and new perspectives.

Author information

1
Cerebrovascular Unit, Hospital Neurologique Pierre Wertheimer, Lyon, France. norbert.nighoghossian@chu-lyon.fr

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Atherosclerosis is a diffuse, chronic inflammatory disorder that involves the vascular, metabolic, and immune systems and leads to plaque vulnerability. The traditional risk assessment relies on clinical, biological, and conventional imaging tools. However, these tools fall short in predicting near-future events in patients with vulnerable carotid artery plaque.

METHODS:

In current clinical practice, anatomic imaging modalities, such as B-mode ultrasound, spiral computed tomography angiography, and high-resolution MRI, can identify several morphological features characteristic of the vulnerable plaque but give little or no information regarding molecular and cellular mechanisms.

RESULTS:

This review is dedicated to factors involved in carotid artery plaque vulnerability and to new imaging methods that target this condition. Our aim is to describe the following: (1) conventional pathologic and imaging markers predictive of plaque vulnerability; (2) the role of relevant biological, genetic, and mechanical factors; (3) the potential of new imaging methods; and (4) current and emerging treatments.

CONCLUSIONS:

A multimodal assessment of plaque vulnerability involving the combination of systemic markers, new imaging methods that target inflammatory and thrombotic components, and the potential of emerging therapies may lead to a new stratification system for atherothrombotic risk and to a better prevention of atherothrombotic stroke.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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