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Imaging of intracoronary thrombus


The identification of intracoronary thrombus and atherothrombosis is central to the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction, with the differentiation between type 1 and type 2 myocardial infarction being crucial for immediate patient management. Invasive coronary angiography has remained the principal imaging modality used in the investigation of patients with myocardial infarction. More recently developed invasive intravascular imaging approaches, such as angioscopy, intravascular ultrasound and optical coherence tomography, can be used as adjunctive imaging modalities to provide more direct visualisation of coronary atheroma and the causes of myocardial infarction as well as to improve the sensitivity of thrombus detection. However, these invasive approaches have practical and logistic constraints that limit their widespread and routine application. Non-invasive angiographic techniques, such as CT and MRI, have become more widely available and have improved the non-invasive visualisation of coronary artery disease. Although they also have a limited ability to reliably identify intracoronary thrombus, this can be overcome by combining their anatomical and structural characterisation of coronary anatomy with positron emission tomography. Specific radiotracers which bind with high specificity and sensitivity to components of thrombus, such as activated platelets, fibrin and factor XIIIa, hold promise for the non-invasive detection of intracoronary thrombus. The development of these novel non-invasive approaches has the potential to inform clinical decision making and patient management as well as to provide a non-invasive technique to assess the efficacy of novel antithrombotic therapies or interventional strategies. However, these have yet to be realised in routine clinical practice.

  • myocardial infarction
  • positron emission tomography computed tomography
  • coronary angiography

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