Whole-Body MR Angiography Shows Atherosclerosis in Lower Risk Patients

May 10, 2018

Whole-body MR angiography is a feasible method for detecting early atherosclerosis in low-to-intermediate risk patients.

Whole-body MR angiography can identify early vascular disease in a population at low to intermediate risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Researchers from Scotland, Wales, and Canada, sought to quantify the burden and distribution of asymptomatic atherosclerosis in this population. A total of 1,513 of 1,528 subjects with a 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease less than 20 percent completed the study; 37.9 percent (577) were men. The median age of the subjects was 53.4 years. All underwent whole-body MRI; 31 arterial segments were scored according to maximum stenosis.

“The key advantages of this MRA technique include the ‘whole-body’ approach, which detects systemic disease that would be missed by modalities assessing single vascular sites,” study co-author Graeme Houston, MD, from the University of Dundee in Scotland, said in a release.

The results showed that 46,601 of the 46,903 of the analyzable segments were interpretable (99.4 percent). Of these, 2,468 (5 percent) showed stenosis. Of this number, 1,649 (3.5 percent) showed stenosis of 50 percent or more. The researchers noted that vascular stenosis were distributed throughout the body with no localized distribution. A total of 747 (49.4 percent) of the participants had at least one stenotic vessel, while 408 (27 percent) had more than one stenotic vessel.

“The results offer a validated quantitative score of atherosclerotic burden, and the technique does not use ionizing radiation, which is an advantage over CT angiography,” Houston said. “This is surprising, given that the study group was made up of asymptomatic individuals without diabetes who had low to intermediate risk of future cardiovascular events by standard risk factor assessment.”

“The results confirm the feasibility for MRA as an imaging method for detecting early atherosclerotic disease in individuals at low to intermediate risk of cardiovascular events,” Houston explained. “This approach could stratify individuals for the presence of disease burden, which could inform further preventative therapy in the future.”