Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 332-339

First online:

Targeted Molecular Imaging to Detect Vascular Disease

  • Wouter DriessenAffiliated withDavid H. Koch Center, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • , Patrick H. KeeAffiliated withDivision of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Email author 

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Major challenges with vascular imaging are related to the deep-seated nature of blood vessels, small dimensions of the lumen, and poor access into the arterial wall. Current imaging techniques are limited to detecting structural abnormalities. To detect minute abnormalities in the vascular lumen or arterial wall, imaging techniques need to be modified to improve their spatial resolution and sensitivity as well as to develop unique homing mechanisms to target biomarkers expressed in the lumen or the wall of the blood vessels. Molecular imaging has the potential to detect pathologic biomarkers that would otherwise be difficult to be detected by current imaging techniques. This review provides an overview of the uses of molecular imaging to detect two major vascular conditions, thrombosis and atherosclerosis. Molecular imaging has the potential to screen for early stages of disease, follow the course of the disease, and detect the presence of vulnerable plaque or occult thromboses that require aggressive intervention.


Atherosclerosis Molecular imaging Thrombosis