MRI has the ability to visualize the arterial vessel wall. Wall thickening and atherosclerotic plaque components can be visualized in the carotid arteries and the aorta. Previous studies also demonstrated the ability of MRI to visualize the coronary vessel wall. The ultimate goal of coronary vessel wall imaging is to detect vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque thereby. This might prevent complications, e.g., chest pain (angina) or myocardial infarction.
The goal of this study was to validate MRI of the coronary vessel wall by comparing it to intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), to detect atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary vessel wall and to look at the uptake of the albumin-binding contrast agent gadofosveset in atherosclerotic plaques. The main hypothesis is that due to the albumin binding characteristics, uptake of the contrast agent will take place in the more vulnerable plaques compared to less vulnerable plaques. MRI will be compared to X-ray coronary angiography and intravascular ultrasound, two techniques currently considered as the standard of reference for imaging of the coronary arteries and vessel wall.