MRI of Geometric and Compositional Features of Vulnerable Carotid Plaque

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Noninvasive imaging of atherosclerotic disease provides a powerful opportunity to gain insight into the complex chain of events underlying atherogenesis, plaque progression, and ultimately those processes that result in atherothrombosis with accompanying clinical symptoms. MRI is particularly attractive because it is noninvasive and is capable of providing a rich array of information on vascular disease. MR methods have been demonstrated to provide information on important features of vascular disease, including the geometric morphology of the flow lumen and the vessel wall, the composition of atheroma, measurement of flow velocities through vessels independent of overlying structures, and more recently insights into the presence and activity of specific molecules that are considered to be important participants in the inflammatory processes and that might differentiate the stable plaque from the vulnerable plaque.

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