Coronary artery disease remains the leading cause of death in the developed world. Over recent years, research has been focused on the development of diagnostic intravascular imaging techniques that enable assessment of plaque composition and morphology, and allow identification of vulnerable, high-risk lesions. Nevertheless recent studies of coronary atherosclerosis have shown that invasive modalities have a limited accuracy in detecting lesions that will progress and cause events, whilst histology-based studies also highlighted the limitations of invasive imaging in assessing plaque characteristics. To overcome these drawbacks, multimodality imaging has been proposed. Although it is apparent that coronary imaging with two or three imaging modalities is time consuming and is associated with a risk of complications, evidence from small clinical studies demonstrated that it provides incremental information about plaque pathology and biology and underscored the need to develop dual-probe hybrid imaging catheters that would enable complete and comprehensive assessment of plaque morphology. This paper reviews the current clinical evidence that supports the use of multimodality intravascular imaging in the study of atherosclerosis, summarizes the key findings of the first invasive imaging studies that utilize hybrid dual-probe catheters, and discusses the limitations of combined intravascular imaging that restrict its broad application in both the clinical and research arena.

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