Vulnerable plaque: definition, diagnosis, and treatment.

Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute and The Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis Cardiovascular Health Center, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Box 1030, New York, NY 10029, USA.
Cardiology clinics (Impact Factor: 1.06). 02/2010; 28(1):1-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccl.2009.09.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This article provides a systematic approach to vulnerable plaques. It is divided into 4 sections. The first section is devoted to definition, incidence, anatomic distribution, and clinical presentation. The second section is devoted to plaque composition, setting up the foundations to understand plaque vulnerability. The third section relates to invasive plaque imaging. The fourth section is devoted to therapy, from conservative pharmacologic options to aggressive percutaneous coronary intervention alternatives.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ischemic stroke from thromboembolic sources is linked to carotid artery atherosclerotic disease with a trend toward medical management in asymptomatic patients. Extent of disease is currently diagnosed by non-invasive imaging techniques that measure luminal stenosis, but it has been suggested that a better biomarker for determining risk of future thromboembolic events is plaque morphology and composition. Specifically, plaques that are composed of mechanically soft lipid/necrotic regions covered by thin fibrous caps are the most vulnerable to rupture. An ultrasound technique that non-invasively interrogates the mechanical properties of soft tissue, called acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) imaging, has been developed as a new modality for atherosclerotic plaque characterization using phantoms and atherosclerotic pigs, but the technique has yet to be validated in vivo in humans. In this preliminary study, in vivo ARFI imaging is presented in a case study format for four patients undergoing clinically indicated carotid endarterectomy and compared with histology. In two type Va plaques, characterized by lipid/necrotic cores covered by fibrous caps, mean ARFI displacements in focal regions were high relative to the surrounding plaque material, suggesting soft features were covered by stiffer layers within the plaques. In two type Vb plaques, characterized by heavy calcification, mean ARFI peak displacements were low relative to the surrounding plaque and arterial wall, suggesting stiff tissue. This pilot study illustrates the feasibility and challenges of transcutaneous ARFI for characterizing the material and structural composition of carotid atherosclerotic plaques via mechanical properties, in humans, in vivo.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To develop a new spatio-temporal texture (SpTeT) based method for distinguishing vulnerable versus stable atherosclerotic plaques on DCE-MRI using a rabbit model of atherothrombosis. Aortic atherosclerosis was induced in 20 New Zealand White rabbits by cholesterol diet and endothelial denudation. MRI was performed before (pretrigger) and after (posttrigger) inducing plaque disruption with Russell's-viper-venom and histamine. Of the 30 vascular targets (segments) under histology analysis, 16 contained thrombus (vulnerable) and 14 did not (stable). A total of 352 voxel-wise computerized SpTeT features, including 192 Gabor, 36 Kirsch, 12 Sobel, 52 Haralick, and 60 first-order textural features, were extracted on DCE-MRI to capture subtle texture changes in the plaques over the course of contrast uptake. Different combinations of SpTeT feature sets, in which the features were ranked by a minimum-redundancy-maximum-relevance feature selection technique, were evaluated via a random forest classifier. A 500 iterative 2-fold cross validation was performed for discriminating the vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque and stable atherosclerotic plaque on per voxel basis. Four quantitative metrics were utilized to measure the classification results in separating between vulnerable and stable plaques. The quantitative results show that the combination of five classes of SpTeT features can distinguish between vulnerable (disrupted plaques with an overlying thrombus) and stable plaques with the best AUC values of 0.9631 ± 0.0088, accuracy of 89.98% ± 0.57%, sensitivity of 83.71% ± 1.71%, and specificity of 94.55% ± 0.48%. Vulnerable and stable plaque can be distinguished by SpTeT based features. The SpTeT features, following validation on larger datasets, could be established as effective and reliable imaging biomarkers for noninvasively assessing atherosclerotic risk.
    Medical Physics 04/2014; 41(4):042303. DOI:10.1118/1.4867861 · 3.01 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Atherosclerosis, the leading death in the United State, is a disease in which a plaque builds up inside the arteries. As the plaque continues to grow, the shear force of the blood flow through the decreasing cross section of the lumen increases. This force may eventually cause rupture of the plaque, resulting in the formation of thrombus, and possibly heart attack. It has long been recognized that the formation of a plaque relates to the cholesterol concentration in the blood. For example, individuals with LDL above 190 mg/dL and HDL below 40 mg/dL are at high risk, while individuals with LDL below 100 mg/dL and HDL above 50 mg/dL are at no risk. In this paper, we developed a mathematical model of the formation of a plaque, which includes the following key variables: LDL and HDL, free radicals and oxidized LDL, MMP and TIMP, cytockines: MCP-1, IFN-γ, IL-12 and PDGF, and cells: macrophages, foam cells, T cells and smooth muscle cells. The model is given by a system of partial differential equations with in evolving plaque. Simulations of the model show how the combination of the concentrations of LDL and HDL in the blood determine whether a plaque will grow or disappear. More precisely, we create a map, showing the risk of plaque development for any pair of values (LDL,HDL).
    PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e90497. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0090497 · 3.53 Impact Factor