Introduction: In patients with carotid artery stenosis histological plaque composition is associated with plaque stability and with presenting symptomatology. Preferentially, plaque vulnerability should be taken into account in pre-operative work-up of patients with severe carotid artery stenosis. However, currently no appropriate and conclusive (non-) invasive technique to differentiate between the high and low risk carotid artery plaque in vivo is available. We propose that 7 Tesla human high resolution MRI scanning will visualize carotid plaque characteristics more precisely and will enable correlation of these specific components with cerebral damage.
Study objective: The aim of the PlaCD-7T study is 1: to correlate 7T imaging with carotid plaque histology (gold standard); and 2: to correlate plaque characteristics with cerebral damage ((clinically silent) cerebral (micro) infarcts or bleeds) on 7 Tesla high resolution (HR) MRI.
Design: We propose a single center prospective study for either symptomatic or asymptomatic patients with haemodynamic significant (70%) stenosis of at least one of the carotid arteries. The Athero-Express (AE) biobank histological analysis will be derived according to standard protocol. Patients included in the AE and our prospective study will undergo a pre-operative 7 Tesla HR-MRI scan of both the head and neck area.
Discussion: We hypothesize that the 7 Tesla MRI scanner will allow early identification of high risk carotid plaques being associated with micro infarcted cerebral areas, and will thus be able to identify patients with a high risk of periprocedural stroke, by identification of surrogate measures of increased cardiovascular risk.
Keywords: 7 Tesla MRI, carotid plaque, cerebral damage, ahistology, PLACID-7T, stenosis, symptomatology, invasive techniques, asymptomatic, ipsilateral carotid stenosis, carotid plaque phenotype, intra-paque markers, thrombo-embolic