OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential of magnetic resonance (MR) to detect arterial thrombotic obstruction and define thrombus age. BACKGROUND: Arterial thrombi underlie the clinical consequences of atherosclerosis and are not reliably detected by current noninvasive diagnostic techniques. METHODS: Carotid thrombi were induced in swine (n = 7) by arterial injury. Serial high-resolution in vivo MR images were obtained using black-blood T1-weighted (T1W) and T2-weighted (T2W) sequences in a clinical 1.5T MR system at 6 h, 1 day and at 1, 2, 3, 6 and 9 weeks. At each time point one animal was sacrificed and the occluded carotid artery processed for histopathology. Thrombus signal intensity (SI) was normalized to that of the adjacent muscle. Thrombus age was assessed based on MR appearance by two blinded independent observers. RESULTS: Thrombus appearance and relative SI revealed characteristic temporal changes in multicontrast-weighted MR images, reflecting histologic changes in the composition. Acute thrombus appeared very bright on the T2W images, facilitating the detection. Signal intensity was 197 ± 25% at 6 h, peaking at 1 week (246 ± 51%), reaching a plateau by 6 weeks (120 ± 15%). At six weeks, complete thrombus organization was confirmed histologically. The T1W images had similar pattern with lower SI than T2W. Age definition using visual appearance was highly accurate (Pearson's chi-square with 4 df ranging from 96 to 132 and Cohen's kappa at 0.81 to 0.94). Agreement between observers was substantial (Pearson chi-square with 4 df = 91.5, kappa = 0.79). CONCLUSIONS: Magnetic resonance imaging is a promising tool to noninvasively detect arterial thrombosis. Measurement of SI and the characteristic visual appearance of the thrombus have the potential to define thrombus age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-1373
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Apr 2002


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