NMR Microscopy: A New Technique in Atherosclerosis Research
Atherosclerosis is clinically silent until late in its course. Its diagnosis ordinarily depends on the detection of impaired blood flow or decreased blood pressure distal to an arterial narrowing. Angiographic visualization of deformity in the lumen of a vessel remains the best presumptive test of silent atherosclerosis (1). Recently, important advances have been made in developing non-invasive diagnostic instrumentation for visualizing blood vessels and atheroma. The new techniques, including B mode ultrasonography, computer-assisted tomography and radionuclear scanning, now allow for an earlier diagnosis of atherosclerosis (2,3). Even though these methods offer valuable morphological information about a diseased vessel, they give very little data on the physico-chemical structure of pathological alteration. The availability of a non-invasive method for the detection of morphological and physico-chemical features of atherosclerotic lesions and, possibly, the observation of their progression or regression, would represent a significant advance.
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