The vulnerable coronary plaque: Update on imaging technologies

Gian Marco Rosa, Matteo Bauckneht, Giovanni Masoero, François Mach, Alessandra Quercioli, Sara Seitun, Manrico Balbi, Claudio Brunelli, Antonello Parodi, Alessio Nencioni, Nicolas Vuilleumier, Fabrizio Montecucco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several studies have been carried out on vulnerable plaque as the main culprit for ischaemic cardiac events. Historically, the most important diagnostic technique for studying coronary atherosclerotic disease was to determine the residual luminal diameter by angiographic measurement of the stenosis. However, it has become clear that vulnerable plaque rupture as well as thrombosis, rather than stenosis, triggers most acute ischaemic events and that the quantification of risk based merely on severity of the arterial stenosis is not sufficient. In the last decades, substantial progresses have been made on optimisation of techniques detecting the arterial wall morphology, plaque composition and inflammation. To date, the use of a single technique is not recommended to precisely identify the progression of the atherosclerotic process in human beings. In contrast, the integration of data that can be derived from multiple methods might improve our knowledge about plaque destabilisation. The aim of this narrative review is to update evidence on the accuracy of the currently available non-invasive and invasive imaging techniques in identifying components and morphologic characteristics associated with coronary plaque vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-722
Number of pages17
JournalThrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary arteries
  • Imaging
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Vulnerable plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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