Imaging atherosclerosis with positron emission tomography

Eur Heart J. 2016 Oct 14;37(39):2974-2980. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehw147. Epub 2016 Apr 28.


Positron emission tomography (PET) provides a non-invasive method to measure biological processes that are relevant to atherosclerosis, including arterial inflammation and calcification. The vast majority of studies imaging atherosclerosis with PET have utilized the tracer 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) to better understand how inflammation contributes to atherosclerosis development, and to test the efficacy of therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing its progression. Additional tracers such as 18F-sodium fluoride (18F-NaF) provide additional avenues for characterizing atherosclerosis development. This review examines the emerging uses of PET arterial imaging as a marker of vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis, as a prognostic tool, and as a clinical research tool. In addition, we examine emerging methods that should advance arterial imaging with PET.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; Positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18