3-D MRI technique helps radiologists detect high-risk carotid disease

September 16, 2008

Canadian researchers have used three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging (3-D MRI) to accurately detect bleeding within the walls of diseased carotid arteries, a condition that may lead to a stroke. The results of the study published in the October issue of Radiology suggest the technique may prove to be a useful screening tool for patients at high risk for stroke.

When major arteries are affected by atherosclerosis, fatty deposits, or plaques, accumulate on the inner lining of the vessel walls. Progression of the disease over time leads to narrowing, restricting blood flow or becoming completely blocked.

Until recently, scientists believed that this narrowing, called stenosis, was responsible for most heart attacks or strokes. But new studies have identified the composition of complicated plaques as being a major cause of vascular events and deaths. These complicated plaques are characterized by surface ulcerations, blood clots and bleeding into the vessel wall.

"There's been a major sea change in our research," said Alan R. Moody, F.R.C.R., F.R.C.P., of the University of Toronto. "We now know that the composition of carotid artery plaque is likely to be more predictive of future stroke events than the amount of stenosis in the vessel."

In the study, conducted at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, researchers performed 3-D MRI on the carotid arteries of 11 patients, age 69 to 81. Complicated plaques were then surgically removed from the patients' diseased arteries and analyzed under a microscope.

The research team found strong agreement between the lesions identified by MRI as complicated plaques and the microscopic analysis of the tissue samples.

"With high spatial resolution 3-D MRI, we are able to noninvasively analyze the tissue within the artery wall and identify small bleeds within rupture-prone plaques that may put patients at risk for future stroke," Dr. Moody said.

According to Dr. Moody, 3-D MRI is a tool that is ideally suited to screen high-risk patients for complicated carotid plaques and to monitor the effects of interventions designed to slow the progress of the atherosclerotic disease. The technique is easy to perform and interpret and takes only a few minutes when added to an MR angiography study, he said.

Source: Radiological Society of North America

Explore further: Vascular brain injury greater risk factor than amyloid plaques in cognitive aging

Related Stories

Vascular brain injury greater risk factor than amyloid plaques in cognitive aging

February 11, 2013
Vascular brain injury from conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke are greater risk factors for cognitive impairment among non-demented older people than is the deposition of the amyloid plaques in the brain that ...

Researchers develop tool to identify atherosclerotic plaques at greatest risk for rupture

October 13, 2015
Researchers have developed and validated a new tool to help identify unstable or high risk atherosclerotic plaques—inflamed fatty deposits in the artery wall and a main contributor to cardiovascular disease (CVD). This ...

Uncontrolled hypertension could bring increased risk for Alzheimer's disease

March 18, 2013
A study in the JAMA Neurology (formerly the Archives of Neurology) suggests that controlling or preventing risk factors such as hypertension earlier in life may limit or delay the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's ...

Technique for cardiovascular diagnostics shows promise

December 9, 2014
A new technique developed at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology shows promise for early diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Imaging identifies asymptomatic people at risk for stroke

September 16, 2014
Imaging can be a cost-effective way to identify people at risk for stroke who might benefit from aggressive intervention, according to a new modeling study published online in the journal Radiology.

Device reduces risk of brain injury after heart valve replacement

August 9, 2016
Among patients with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve) undergoing transcatheter aortic valve implantation, the use of a cerebral protection device (a filter that captures debris [tissue and plaque] dislodged ...

Recommended for you

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Age and gut bacteria contribute to multiple sclerosis disease progression

November 17, 2017
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

FDA to crack down on risky stem cell offerings

November 16, 2017
U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.