Clinical imaging of the vulnerable plaque in the coronary arteries: new intracoronary diagnostic methods


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Abstract

Rupture of a vulnerable plaque is the main cause of acute coronary syndromes and myocardial infarction. The features of rupture-prone atherosclerotic plaques have been previously described by pathologists. However, identification of vulnerable plaques in vivo is essential to study their natural history and to evaluate potential treatment modalities. Coronary angiography is the gold standard for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease, but it is unable to distinguish between stable and unstable plaques and to accurately predict future cardiac events. This current perspective describes the recently developed invasive imaging techniques to detect atherosclerotic vulnerable plaques in the coronary tree.

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