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Table 1 Histological features of vulnerable plaque - ability of invasive imaging modalities in identifying vulnerable plaque characteristics.

From: Focus on the research utility of intravascular ultrasound - comparison with other invasive modalities

Criteria for defining a vulnerable plaque Intravascular imaging modalities
Major Criteria IVUS, IVUS-RF OCT Angioscopy NIRS* IV-MRI*
Active inflammation - + - - -
Thin fibrous cap ++ +++ ++ - +
Lipid core +++ +++ - ++ ++
Disrupted plaques + +++ ++ - -
Stenosis > 90% +++ + - - ++
Minor Criteria      
Superficial calcified nodule - ++ - - -
Yellow colour on angioscopy plaque - - +++ - -
Intraplaque haemorrhage - + - - -
Endothelial dysfunction - - - - -
Positive remodelling +++ + - - ++
  1. IVUS, intravascular ultrasound; RF, radiofrequency analysis; OCT, optical coherence tomography; NIRS, near infrared spectroscopy; IV-MRI, intravascular magnetic resonance imaging. Methods' ability to identify vulnerable plaque characteristics is graded as: unable (-), low capability (+), moderate capability (++) and high capability (+++). The evaluation of the methods that have not been used in clinical practice (indicated with *) was based on the in vitro and ex vivo studies.