Invasive imaging modalities, in particular intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and optical coherence tomography (OCT), have become established tools for the in vivo study of coronary atherosclerosis. Their use in clinical studies has confirmed histopathological observations that certain important plaque features, such as thin fibrous caps and large lipid cores, are associated with plaque rupture, the precipitating event for the majority of myocardial infarctions. Serial imaging studies have also successfully been used for the evaluation of potential disease modifying pharmacological agents. Recent prospective IVUS studies have confirmed specific baseline imaging features associated with subsequent adverse clinical outcomes, although absolute event rates were too low for clinical utility. Development of hybrid IVUS–OCT imaging or integration of novel techniques, including near-infrared spectroscopy, plaque structural and endothelial shear stress, have great potential to improve our current ability to identify and stratify atheromatous plaques at risk of rupture.
- Coronary atherosclerosis
- Intravascular ultrasound
- Optical coherence tomography
- Virtual-histology intravascular ultrasound