The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Default user image.

Jan Nilsson


Default user image.

Imaging of the vulnerable carotid plaque : Role of imaging techniques and a research agenda


  • Iacopo Fabiani
  • Carlo Palombo
  • Davide Caramella
  • Jan Nilsson
  • Raffaele De Caterina

Summary, in English

OBJECTIVES: Atherothrombosis in the carotid arteries is a main cause of ischemic stroke and may depend on plaque propensity to complicate with rupture or erosion, in turn related to vulnerability features amenable to in vivo imaging. This would provide an opportunity for risk stratification and-potentially-local treatment of more vulnerable plaques. We here review current information on this topic. METHODS: We systematically reviewed the literature for concepts derived from pathophysiologic, histopathologic, and clinical studies on imaging techniques attempting at identifying vulnerable carotid lesions. RESULTS: Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and nuclear medicine-based techniques, alone or with multimodality approaches, all have a link to pathophysiology and describe different-potentially complementary-aspects of lesions prone to complications. There is also, however, a true paucity of head-to-head comparisons of such techniques for practical implementation of a thorough and cost-effective diagnostic strategy based on evaluation of outcomes. Especially in asymptomatic patients, major international societies leave wide margins of indecision in the advice to techniques guiding interventions to prevent atherothrombotic stroke. CONCLUSIONS: To improve practical management of such patients-in addition to the patient's vulnerability for systemic reasons-a more precise identification of the vulnerable plaque is needed. A better definition of the diagnostic yield of each imaging approach in comparison with the others should be pursued for a cost-effective translation of the single techniques. Practical translation to guide future clinical practice should be based on improved knowledge of the specific pathophysiologic correlates and on a comparative modality approach, linked to subsequent stroke outcomes.


  • Cardiovascular Research - Immunity and Atherosclerosis
  • EXODIAB: Excellence of Diabetes Research in Sweden
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health

Publishing year












Document type

Journal article review


Lippincott Williams & Wilkins


  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • Social and Clinical Pharmacy



Research group

  • Cardiovascular Research - Immunity and Atherosclerosis


  • ISSN: 1526-632X