, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 76-88
Date: 08 Nov 2012

Imaging Atherosclerotic Plaques with MRI: Role of Contrast Agents

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) represents one of the most promising techniques for noninvasive evaluation of atherosclerotic plaques. During the last 10 years, acquisition techniques dedicated to vascular wall imaging have been developed for MRI and offer images with high spatial resolution atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta and carotid arteries. Major components of atherosclerotic plaques can be identified based on differences in their intrinsic contrast with MRI. In addition to morphologic aspects, detection of biological activities in atherosclerotic plaques with MRI could bring new hints for the identification of high-risk plaques. A large array of MR contrast agents has become available during the last 10 years and tested for the evaluation of atherosclerotic plaques. In this review, we will discuss the advantages and drawbacks of several classes of MR contrast agents developed for atherosclerotic plaque imaging using representative examples.