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Atherosclerosis. 2013 Dec;231(2):323-33. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.09.035. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Coronary and carotid atherosclerosis: how useful is the imaging?

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Heart Centre and Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


The recent advancement of imaging modalities has made possible visualization of atherosclerosis disease in all phases of its development. Markers of subclinical atherosclerosis or even the most advanced plaque features are acquired by invasive (IVUS, OCT) and non-invasive imaging modalities (US, MRI, CTA). Determining plaques prone to rupture (vulnerable plaques) might help to identify patients at risk for myocardial infarction or stroke. The most accepted features of plaque vulnerability include: thin cap fibroatheroma, large lipid core, intimal spotty calcification, positive remodeling and intraplaque neovascularizations. Today, research is focusing on finding imaging techniques that are less invasive, less radiation and can detect most of the vulnerable plaque features. While, carotid atherosclerosis can be visualized using noninvasive imaging, such as US, MRI and CT, imaging plaque feature in coronary arteries needs invasive imaging modalities. However, atherosclerosis is a systemic disease with plaque development simultaneously in different arteries and data acquisition in carotid arteries can add useful information for prediction of coronary events.


Arterial calcification; Atherosclerosis imaging; Dupplex ultrasound; Intravascular ultrasound; OCT

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