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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 May 17;57(20):1961-79. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2011.02.018.

Imaging the vulnerable plaque.

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Pôle de Recherche Cardiovasculaire, Institut de Recherche Expérimentale et Cliniques, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Cardiovascular diseases are still the primary causes of mortality in the United States and in Western Europe. Arterial thrombosis is triggered by a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque and precipitates an acute vascular event, which is responsible for the high mortality rate. These rupture-prone plaques are called "vulnerable plaques." During the past decades, much effort has been put toward accurately detecting the presence of vulnerable plaques with different imaging techniques. In this review, we provide an overview of the currently available invasive and noninvasive imaging modalities used to detect vulnerable plaques. We will discuss the upcoming challenges in translating these techniques into clinical practice and in assigning them their exact place in the decision-making process.

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