Molecular imaging of atherosclerosis with integrated PET imaging.


Atherosclerotic diseases account for nearly half of all deaths and are leading causes of adult disability. Our understanding of how atherosclerosis leads to cardiovascular disease events has evolved: from a concept of progressive luminal narrowing, to that of sudden rupture and thrombosis of biologically active atheroma. In concert with this conceptual shift, contemporary imaging techniques now allow imaging of biological processes that associate with plaque instability: active calcification and plaque inflammation. This review focuses on opportunities provided by positron emission tomography/computed tomography, to identify these high-risk biological features of atherosclerosis.