Culprit lesions of patients, who have had an acute coronary syndrome commonly, are ruptured coronary plaques with superimposed thrombus. The precursor of such lesions is an inflamed thin-capped fibroatheroma. These plaques can be imaged by means of invasive techniques, such as intravascular ultrasound (and derived techniques), optical coherence tomography, and near-infrared spectroscopy. Often these patients exhibit similar (multiple) plaques beyond the culprit lesion. These remote plaques can be assessed noninvasively by computed tomographic angiography and MRI and also using invasive imaging. The detection of these remote plaques is not only feasible but also in natural history studies have been associated with clinical coronary events. Different systemic pharmacological treatments have been studied (mostly statins) with modest success and, therefore, newer approaches are being tested. Local treatment for such lesions is in its infancy and larger, prospective, and randomized trials are needed. This review will describe the pathological and imaging findings in culprit lesions of patients with acute coronary syndrome and the assessment of remote plaques. In addition, the pharmacological and local treatment options will be reviewed.

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Circulation Research
Department of Cardiology