Molecular imaging of plaques in coronary arteries with PET and SPECT
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Coronary artery disease remains a major cause of mortality. Presence of atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary artery is responsible for lumen stenosis which is often used as an indicator for determining the severity of coronary artery disease. However, the degree of coronary lumen stenosis is not often related to compromising myocardial blood flow, as most of the cardiac events that are caused by atherosclerotic plaques are the result of vulnerable plaques which are prone to rupture. Thus, identification of vulnerable plaques in coronary arteries has become increasingly important to assist identify patients with high cardiovascular risks. Molecular imaging with use of PET and SPECT has fulfilled this goal by providing functional information about plaque activity which enables accurate assessment of plaque stability. This review article provides an overview of diagnostic applications of molecular imaging techniques in the detection of plaques in coronary arteries with PET and SPECT. New radiopharmaceuticals used in the molecular imaging of coronary plaques and diagnostic applications of integrated PET/CT and PET/MRI in coronary plaques are also discussed.
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