Is Carotid Intima-Media Thickness as Predictive as Other Noninvasive Techniques for the Detection of Coronary Artery Disease?
Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) measured by B-mode ultrasound is the most widely used noninvasive imaging method to assess atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk. CIMT has been consistently associated with coronary artery disease and stroke; however, recent meta-analyses and systematic reviews suggest that its clinical usefulness may be limited because the addition of CIMT to traditional risk factors has not improved the risk prediction of cardiovascular events in the general population. Characterizing the carotid wall by MRI may have greater clinical utility compared with CIMT measurements by ultrasound. Unlike CIMT, MRI measurements of wall thickness include the adventitia and may be sensitive to adventitial thickening that results from vasa vasorum proliferation as a sign of early plaque development. MRI also has the ability to image the entire circumference of the carotid wall, including the outer wall of the carotid bulb where plaque forms in its earliest stage, and identify plaque components such as the lipid core, fibrous cap, and intraplaque hemorrhage that are closely related to plaque vulnerability and cardiovascular risk. Additional research is needed to assess the added prognostic value of MRI measurements of wall and plaque features in risk prediction beyond traditional risk factors.
- carotid intima-media thickness
- coronary disease
- magnetic resonance imaging
- Received December 25, 2013.
- Accepted April 1, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.