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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 81-86

A promising tool to tackle the risk of cerebral vascular disease, the emergence of novel carotid wall imaging

Department of Cardiology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK; Department of Cardiology, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mohammad Alkhalil
Department of Cardiology, Toronto General Hospital, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, M5G 2C4

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/bc.bc_65_19

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Stroke is a heterogeneous vascular disease. Carotid artery atherosclerosis is associated with almost one-quarter of ischemic strokes. Moreover, a large percentage of preventable strokes are currently attributed to carotid atherosclerosis. Over the past three decades, the management of carotid artery disease has evolved. The benefits of carotid revascularization alongside medical therapy have early been recognized. Nonetheless, the debate regarding the optimal strategy is still ongoing, particularly in patients with asymptomatic carotid artery disease. One of the challenges is the use of luminal stenosis to quantify the severity of the carotid artery disease and to guide decision-making regarding invasive revascularization. Characterizing carotid atherosclerotic plaque is a promising tool to identify vulnerable plaque. Certain features such as large lipid core have already been linked to acute vascular events, not only at the plaque level but also to predict systemic cardiovascular events. Recently, a quantitative T2 mapping magnetic resonance imaging technique was developed and validated against histology. The ability to accurately quantify plaque lipid content using this technique opens several new opportunities. In this review articles, we will discuss the current challenges in the management of carotid artery disease and the future roles of T2 mapping to aid therapeutic options. These roles may include how to determine the mode of invasive carotid revascularization in symptomatic patients. Moreover, there may be a rational to use T2 mapping as a risk stratification tool in asymptomatic patients with carotid artery stenosis. It may also provide an opportunity to stage atherosclerosis and identify patients with coronary atherosclerosis who may benefit maximally from intensive lipid interventions.

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