Background - Conventional x-ray angiography frequently underestimates the true burden of atherosclerosis. Although intravascular ultrasound allows for imaging of coronary plaque, this invasive technique is inappropriate for screening or serial examinations. We therefore sought to develop a noninvasive free-breathing MR technique for coronary vessel wall imaging. We hypothesized that such an approach would allow for in vivo imaging of coronary atherosclerosis. Methods and Results - Ten subjects, including 5 healthy adult volunteers (aged 35±17 years, range 19 to 56 years) and 5 patients (aged 60±4 years, range 56 to 66 years) with x-ray-confirmed coronary artery disease (CAD), were studied with a T2-weighted, dual-inversion, fast spin-echo MR sequence. Multiple adjacent 5-mm cross-sectional images of the proximal right coronary artery were obtained with an in-plane resolution of 0.5 x 1.0 mm. A right hemidiaphragmatic navigator was used to facilitate free-breathing MR acquisition. Coronary vessel wall images were readily acquired in all subjects. Both coronary vessel wall thickness (1.5±0.2 versus 1.0±0.2 mm) and wall area (21.2±3.1 versus 13.7±4.2 mm2) were greater in patients with CAD (both P<0.02 versus healthy adults). Conclusions - In vivo free-breathing coronary vessel wall and plaque imaging with MR has been successfully implemented in humans. Coronary wall thickness and wall area were significantly greater in patients with angiographic CAD. The presented technique may have potential applications in patients with known or suspected atherosclerotic CAD or for serial evaluation after pharmacological intervention.
- Magnetic resonance imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)