Thin-capped fibroatheroma is the morphology that most resembles plaque rupture. Detection of these vulnerable plaques in vivo is essential to being able to study their natural history and evaluate potential treatment modalities and, therefore, may ultimately have an important impact on the prevention of acute myocardial infarction and death. Currently, conventional grayscale intravascular ultrasound, virtual histology and palpography data are being collected with the same catheter during the same pullback. A combination of this catheter with either thermography capability or additional imaging, such as optical coherence tomography or spectroscopy, would be an exciting development. Intravascular magnetic resonance imaging also holds much promise. To date, none of the techniques described above have been sufficiently validated and most importantly, their predictive value for adverse cardiac events remains elusive. Very rigorous and well-designed studies are compelling for defining the role of each diagnostic modality. Until we are able to detect in vivo vulnerable plaques accurately, no specific treatment is warranted.

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Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Garcia-Garcia, H., Gonzalo, N., Granada, J., Regar, E., & Serruys, P. (2008). Diagnosis and treatment of coronary vulnerable plaques. Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy (Vol. 6, pp. 209–222). doi:10.1586/14779072.6.2.209