T1-weighted MRI for the detection of coronary artery plaque haemorrhage
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Hyperintense areas in atherosclerotic plaques on pre-contrast T1-weighted MRI have been shown to correlate with intraplaque haemorrhage. We evaluated the presence of T1 hyperintensity in coronary artery plaques in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients and correlated results with multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) findings.
Fifteen patients with CAD were included. Plaques detected by MDCT were categorised based on their Hounsfield number. T1-weighted inversion recovery (IR) MRI prepared coronary MRI for the detection of plaque and steady-state free-precession coronary MR-angiography for anatomical correlation was performed. After registration of MDCT and MRI, regions of interest were defined on MDCT-visible plaques and in corresponding vessel segments acquired with MRI. MDCT density and MR signal measurement were performed in each plaque.
Forty-three plaques were identified with MDCT. With IR-MRI 5/43 (12%) plaques were hyperintense, 2 of which were non-calcified and 3 mixed. Average signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios of hyperintense plaques were 15.7 and 9.1, compared with 5.6 and 1.2 for hypointense plaques. Hyperintense plaques exhibited a significantly lower CT density than hypointense plaques (63.6 vs. 140.8). There was no correlation of plaque signal intensity with degree of stenosis.
T1-weighted IR-MRI may be useful for non-invasive detection and characterisation of intraplaque haemorrhage in coronary artery plaques.