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J Nucl Med. 2010 May 1;51 Suppl 1:51S-65S. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.109.068163. Epub 2010 Apr 15.

Imaging atherosclerosis and vulnerable plaque.

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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Identifying patients at high risk for an acute cardiovascular event such as myocardial infarction or stroke and assessing the total atherosclerotic burden are clinically important. Currently available imaging modalities can delineate vascular wall anatomy and, with novel probes, target biologic processes important in plaque evolution and plaque stability. Expansion of the vessel wall involving remodeling of the extracellular matrix can be imaged, as can angiogenesis of the vasa vasorum, plaque inflammation, and fibrin deposits on early nonocclusive vascular thrombosis. Several imaging platforms are available for targeted vascular imaging to acquire information on both anatomy and pathobiology in the same imaging session using either hybrid technology (nuclear combined with CT) or MRI combined with novel probes targeting processes identified by molecular biology to be of importance. This article will discuss the current state of the art of these modalities and challenges to clinical translation.

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