OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine the feasibility and potential of transesophageal magnetic resonance imaging (TEMRI) for quantifying atherosclerotic plaque burden in the aortic arch and descending thoracic aorta in comparison with transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). BACKGROUND: Improved morphologic assessment of atherosclerotic plaque features in vivo is of interest because of the potential for improved understanding of the pathophysiology of plaque vulnerability to rupture and progression to clinical events. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is well suited for atherosclerotic plaque imaging. Performing MRI using a radio frequency (RF) receiver probe placed near the region of interest improves the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). METHODS: High-resolution images of the thoracic aortic wall were obtained by TEMRI in 22 subjects (8 normals, 14 with aortic atherosclerosis). In nine subjects, we compared aortic wall thickness and circumferential extent of atherosclerotic plaque measured by TEMRI versus TEE using a Bland-Altman analysis. Additional studies were performed in a human cadaver with pathology, as an independent gold standard for assessment of atherosclerosis. RESULTS: In clinical and experimental studies, we found similar measurements for aortic plaque thickness but a relative underestimation of circumferential extent of atherosclerosis by TEE (p = 0.001), due in large part to the lower SNR in the near field. CONCLUSIONS: Using TEMRI allows for quantitative assessment of thoracic aortic atherosclerotic plaque burden. This technique provides good SNR in the near field, which makes it a promising approach for detailed characterization of aortic plaque burden.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine