Atherosclerotic plaque composition is central to the pathogenesis of plaque disruption and acute thrombosis. Thus, there is a need for accurate imaging and characterization of atherosclerotic lesions. Even though there is no ideal animal model of atherosclerosis, the porcine model is considered to most closely resemble human atherosclerosis. We report the feasibility of MR imaging and characterizing of atherosclerotic lesions from in situ coronary arteries and aortas in an ex vivo setting and validate this with histopathology. Coronary and aortic atherosclerosis was induced in Yucatan mini-swine (n=4) by a combination of atherogenic diet (6 months) and balloon injury. All coronary arteries were imaged ex vivo on the intact heart, preserving the curvature of their course. The aorta also underwent MR imaging. The MR images were correlated with the matched histopathology sections for both the coronary arteries (n=54) and the aortas (n=43). MR imaging accurately characterized complex atherosclerotic lesions, including calcified, lipid rich, fibrocellular and hemorrhagic regions. Mean wall thickness for the coronary arteries (r=0.94, slope: 0.81) and aortas (r=0.94, slope: 0.81) as well as aortic plaque area (r=0.97, slope: 0.90) was accurately determined by MR imaging (P < 0.0001). Coronary artery MR imaging is not limited by the curvature of the coronary arteries in the heart. MR imaging accurately quantifies and characterizes coronary and aortic atherosclerotic lesions, including the vessel wall, in this experimental porcine model of complex atherosclerosis. This model may be useful for future study of MR imaging of atherosclerosis in vivo. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2000


  • Aorta
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Porcine


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