Atherosclerosis Characterization Using a Multi-Contrast MRI Sequence

Tech ID: li000711



Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that can remain asymptomatic for decades. Clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis, including coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral arterial disease, will occur in 2 of 3 men and 1 in 2 women after age 40 (Robinson, 2009). Atherosclerotic plaques can be separated into two broad categories: stable and unstable (also called vulnerable). The process of evaluating atherosclerosis in patients via MRI, in order to assess the nature and extent of any lesions present, is important to determining an appropriate treatment plan.

The conventional MRI protocol for investigating atherosclerotic plaques involves a series of scans that provide multiple contrast weightings (e.g. T1-weighted, T2-weighted, and bright-blood, etc.) for resolving high-risk plaque characteristics. Unfortunately, misregistration between image sets due to inter-scan motion often compromises evaluation accuracy. There is clearly a need for improved MRI methods that allow for more efficient and accurate assessment of atherosclerotic plaque.



Technology Description

Dr. Li and Dr. Fan from Cedars Sinai Medical Center developed a method for imaging an atherosclerotic lesion in a subject, including using an MRI machine to acquire multiple spatially co-registered 3D image sets in an interleaved fashion and from the same imaged volume of the subject, during a single scan.


The multiple spatially co-registered 3D image sets acquired provide multiple contrasts, including two or more of (1) black-blood hyper T1-weighting (T1-w), (2) grey-blood, and (3) black-blood T2-weighting (T2-w).

The sequence called “MATCH” (Multicontrast Atherosclerosis Characterization) uses a low-flip-angle gradient echo-based MRI acquisition technique combined with specialized magnetization preparative schemes, and multiple co-registered 3D image sets with different contrast weightings are collected in an interleaved fashion.


As shown in the figure below, the interleaved acquisition of the inventive method consists of 4 repetition times (TRs). The first TR provides hyper T1-weighted (T1-w) contrast at the vessel wall by using a nonselective inversion pulse and a blood-suppressing FSD preparation. The second TR provides grey-to-bright blood lumen that is secondary to both blood T1-recovery and in-flow fresh blood. The third TR is for the vessel wall spins to continue to recover. Finally, the fourth TR provides T2-weighted (T2-w) contrast at the vessel wall by using a long-duration FSD preparation. The three contrasts are aimed to identify the intra-plaque hemorrhage, juxtaluminal calcification, and necrotic core, respectively.


Stage of Development

Clinical data



• Single scan – co-registered 3D images

• No spatial registration of multiple image sets needed to correct for inter-scan misregistration artifacts and to ensure plaque characterization at the same location



Assessment of atherosclerotic plaque


Intellectual Property

• US non-provisional patent application 13/970,327 filed;


Licensing Scenario

• Non-exclusive license only



• Fan et al. Multi-contrast atherosclerosis characterization (MATCH) of carotid plaque with a single 5-min scan: technical development and clinical feasibility. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson. 2014 Jul 25; Link

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Julien Brohan
Debiao Li
Zhaoyang Fan