Tracking regression and progression of atherosclerosis in human carotid arteries using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging

Gareth J. Adams, Jennifer Greene, G. Wesley Vick, Ronald Harrist, Kay T. Kimball, Christof Karmonik, Christie M. Ballantyne, William Insull, Joel D. Morrisett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can accurately and reproducibly measure the volume of atherosclerotic plaque in human carotid arteries. Atherosclerotic plaques may either progress or regress over time, depending on individual risk factors and treatment regimens. This study was designed to determine if regression or progression of human carotid atherosclerosis in patients receiving statin therapy over 24 months can be detected by high-resolution MRI. In 11 subjects who had undergone unilateral carotid endarterectomy and were on statin therapy, volumes for total carotid artery, concentric wall (normal wall), eccentric wall (plaque), and lumen were quantified at 0, 16 and 24 months using a 1.5-T human imager equipped with 6-cm phased array coils. The interobserver mean coefficient of variation (CV) was lowest for the lumen volume (3.1%) and highest for the plaque volume (9.8%). The interscan mean CV was lowest for the total artery volume (3.2%) and highest for the plaque volume (9.9%). As much as 26% regression and 35% progression were observed in individual subject's carotid artery eccentric wall (plaque) volumes over time. Mean eccentric wall volume increased 5% by 16 months and 8% by 24 months. Mean total wall volume increased slightly at both 16 and 24 months (+1.2% and +1.8%). High-resolution MRI provides a noninvasive reproducible method of tracking changes in carotid atherosclerosis. This pilot study detected changes in individual subjects at both 16 and 24 months. MRI tracking of changes in atherosclerotic plaques should prove useful in assessing vascular disease risk and monitoring the efficacy of interventions designed to induce regression or retard progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1249-1258
Number of pages10
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid artery
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Structural Biology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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