Coronary Artery Plaque Imaging

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2017 Sep;19(9):37. doi: 10.1007/s11883-017-0672-z.


Purpose of review: This short review summarizes the recent development in clinical and experimental imaging techniques for coronary atherosclerosis.

Recent findings: Coronary atherosclerosis is the underlying disease of myocardial infarction, the leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Conventional ways of risk assessment, including evaluation of traditional risk factors and interrogation of luminal stenosis, have proven imprecise for the prediction of major events. Rapid advances in noninvasive imaging techniques including MRI, CT, and PET, as well as catheter-based methods, have opened the doors to more in-depth interrogation of plaque burden, composition, and many crucial pathological processes such as inflammation and hemorrhage. These emerging imaging modalities and methodologies, combined with conventional imaging evidences of anatomy and ischemia, offer the promises to provide comprehensive information of the disease status. There is tremendous clinical potential for imaging to improve the current management of coronary atherosclerosis, including the identification of high-risk patients for aggressive therapies and guiding personalized treatment. In this review, we provide an overview of the state-of-the-art coronary plaque imaging techniques focusing on their respective strengths and weaknesses, as well as their clinical outlook.

Keywords: Computed tomography; Coronary artery atherosclerosis; High-risk plaque; Invasive coronary imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods