Imaging of vulnerable plaque: Potential breakthrough or pipe dream?
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- Laitinen, I. & Knuuti, J. curr cardiovasc imaging rep (2009) 2: 167. doi:10.1007/s12410-009-0021-x
Atherosclerotic plaque rupture is the main cause of acute cardiac events. The detection of these unstable plaques before rupture is clinically very important, and recently there have been considerable efforts to develop imaging methods for plaque visualization and characterization. It is likely that multiple approaches are needed, from simple screening tests to advanced invasive imaging studies. The strength of nuclear imaging techniques is the outstanding sensitivity. Although the spatial resolution of clinical nuclear imaging does not allow anatomical characterization of plaques, the recent hybrid imaging techniques offer possibility for combined anatomical and molecular imaging. We discuss the current progress on nuclear imaging techniques in assessing unstable plaques.