Coronary artery disease remains a major hazard within the western world despite early revascularisation and advanced medical therapy strategies. One of its major substrates is platelet activation and thrombus formation, triggering acute events such as myocardial infarction and ischemic strokes. There are a variety of non-invasive imaging strategies being translated from bench to bedside into clinical practice that tackle specific aspects of the pathophysiology of thrombus formation. Some of those techniques are able to visualize native contrast differences between thrombus and surrounding tissue, others focus on the use of specific contrast agents targeting thrombotic components such as fibrin or activated platelets. Some of those techniques are still in the pre-clinical stage; others have already entered the clinical arena. The current review article will introduce different techniques and their stage of development on their way from bench to bedside with a specific focus on cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, that has evolved over the last years providing high quality information on anatomy, perfusion and myocardial tissue characteristics such as scarring in clinical practice. Finally, we will give an outlook on how this exciting field might evolve in the future.
Keywords: Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, non-invasive imaging, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, platelets, vulnerable plaque, myocardial infarction, stroke, SPECT, low-density lipoprotein