Fast Five Quiz: Noncoronary Atherosclerosis Management

Yasmine S. Ali, MD


March 01, 2021

Figure 1. Cutaway computer illustration showing fatty plaques (atheromas, yellow) on the inner wall of an artery. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, is the most common cause of arterial narrowing.

Intravascular ultrasound is a catheter-based examination that provides images of the thickness and the acoustic density of the vessel wall, and it has long been considered the standard approach for this purpose. Ultrasonography allows for evaluation of brachial artery reactivity (a measure of vessel wall function) and carotid artery intima-media thickness (a measure of anatomy). These evaluations remain research techniques at this time but hold promise as reliable, noninvasive, and serial measures of disease and response to therapy.

Spiral CT, and particularly MRI plaque imaging, may reveal important information on plaque composition and vulnerability-detecting plaque rupture, intraplaque hemorrhage, and the presence of thrombus. Although PET/CT and hybrid technique prototypes using PET/CT and MRI are promising research tools for identifying inflammatory components of atherosclerotic plaques, so far these approaches are investigational rather than clinical.

Learn more about ultrasonographic examination in atherosclerosis.


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