Identification and Quantitative Assessment of Different Components of Intracranial Atherosclerotic Plaque by Ex Vivo 3T High-Resolution Multicontrast MRI
Fifty-three intracranial arterial specimens with atherosclerotic plaques from 20 cadavers were imaged by 3T MR with T1, T2, and proton-density–weighted FSE and STIR sequences. The signal characteristics and areas of fibrous cap, lipid core, calcification, fibrous tissue, and healthy vessel wall were recorded on MR images and compared with histology. The signal intensity of the lipid core was significantly lower than that of the fibrous cap on T2-weighted, proton-density, and STIR sequences and was comparable on T1-weighted sequences. Optimal contrast between the lipid core and fibrous cap was found on T2-weighted images. Ex vivo 3T MR imaging can accurately identify and quantitatively assess intracranial atherosclerotic plaque components, providing a direct reference for in vivo intracranial plaque imaging.