PET Imaging of Atherosclerosis Reveals Risk of Plaque Rupture

June 12, 2017

A new study shows that a hybrid molecular imaging system unites three imaging modalities to map the composition of dangerous arterial plaques before they rupture and induce a major cardiac event. The research was presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).

Certain types of plaques associated with atherosclerosis are prone to instability and tend to break apart, which can lead to embolism and sudden death, if left untreated. Lesions called thin-cap fibro atheroma (TCFA) are especially prone to rupture. Stanford University researchers have developed a scanner that unites optical, radioluminescence, and photoacoustic imaging to evaluate for TCFA.

"This is the first clinical imaging system able to detect vulnerable plaque in their earliest stages," said Raiyan T. Zaman, PhD, instructor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. "Our novel imaging system can detect these vulnerable plaques despite their small size, complex biochemistry and morphology. This could lead to a paradigm shift in the way coronary artery disease is diagnosed and assessed."

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