Imaging of atherosclerosis

Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2016 Jan;32(1):5-12. doi: 10.1007/s10554-015-0730-y. Epub 2015 Aug 4.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major health concern worldwide and atherosclerosis is the main cause of CVD. Atherosclerosis is a systemic and chronic inflammatory disease, which is characterized by plaque formation and can affect different vascular beds. Imaging of atherosclerosis could guide therapeutic interventions. Ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and interventional angiography are the main imaging modalities available for the assessment of atherosclerotic burden and for potential prediction of future events. In addition, the introduction of new hybrid imaging techniques like PET/MRI allow for the simultaneous evaluation of anatomical and metabolic characteristics tissues. This article provides an overview of coronary and non-coronary atherosclerosis and summarizes the current understanding of different available imaging techniques. The integration of these techniques in clinical practice may allow for superior risk stratification and therapeutic planning as well as monitoring of interventional and medication based treatment strategies.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; CTA; Cardiovascular disease; MRA; PET; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arteries* / diagnostic imaging
  • Arteries* / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Atherosclerosis / therapy
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging / methods*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional
  • Young Adult