Carotid magnetic resonance imaging for monitoring atherosclerotic plaque progression: a multicenter reproducibility study

Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2015 Jan;31(1):95-103. doi: 10.1007/s10554-014-0532-7. Epub 2014 Sep 13.


This study sought to determine the multicenter reproducibility of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the compatibility of different scanner platforms in assessing carotid plaque morphology and composition. A standardized multi-contrast MRI protocol was implemented at 16 imaging sites (GE: 8; Philips: 8). Sixty-eight subjects (61 ± 8 years; 52 males) were dispersedly recruited and scanned twice within 2 weeks on the same magnet. Images were reviewed centrally using a streamlined semiautomatic approach. Quantitative volumetric measurements on plaque morphology (lumen, wall, and outer wall) and plaque tissue composition [lipid-rich necrotic core (LRNC), calcification, and fibrous tissue] were obtained. Inter-scan reproducibility was summarized using the within-subject standard deviation, coefficient of variation (CV) and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Good to excellent reproducibility was observed for both morphological (ICC range 0.98-0.99) and compositional (ICC range 0.88-0.96) measurements. Measurement precision was related to the size of structures (CV range 2.5-4.9 % for morphology, 36-44 % for LRNC and calcification). Comparable measurement variability was found between the two platforms on both plaque morphology and tissue composition. In conclusion, good to excellent inter-scan reproducibility of carotid MRI can be achieved in multicenter settings with comparable measurement precision between platforms, which may facilitate future multicenter endeavors that use serial MRI to monitor atherosclerotic plaque progression.

Trial registration: NCT00880178 NCT01178320.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada
  • Carotid Arteries / chemistry
  • Carotid Arteries / pathology*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / metabolism
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / pathology*
  • China
  • Disease Progression
  • Equipment Design
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography* / instrumentation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Observer Variation
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Vascular Calcification / pathology


  • Lipids

Associated data