A new MRI technique may identify vulnerable atheromatous plaques likely to rupture.
LONDON, August 11 (SPIS MedWire) Researchers at Mount Sinai Medical School have reported the results of a pilot study involving 'black-blood' MRI — a novel means of noninvasively imaging human coronary arteries. Fayad and colleagues say that the technique, which causes the blood to appear dark while the surrounding tissue and plaques are bright, is the first to accurately image the morphological features of the vessel lumen and wall. The method was tested in 13 subjects, five of whom had coronary artery disease. In the healthy subjects, the average coronary wall thickness, as determined by black-blood MRI (BB-MRI) cross-sectional imaging, was 0.75–0.17mm. In the five CAD patients, BB-MRI identified localized wall thickening ranging from 3.3 to 5.73mm. The differences in maximum wall thickness between the two groups was statistically significant at p<0.001. The authors say the images obtained were high-quality and not affected by cardiac or respiratory motion artefacts, a significant problem with current techniques. Moreover, it requires no injection of contrast media, no incision and no insertion of a catheter. The team hope the technique 'could permit the identification of vulnerable plaques before they rupture and may provide a way to target pharmacological intervention to reduce or prevent cardiovascular disease.'