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Coronary atherosclerosis and the precipitation of acute myocardial infarction are highly complex processes, which makes accurate risk prediction challenging. Rapid developments in invasive and noninvasive imaging technologies now provide us with detailed, exquisite images of the coronary vasculature that allow direct investigation of a wide range of these processes. These modalities include sophisticated assessments of luminal stenoses and myocardial perfusion, complemented by novel measures of the atherosclerotic plaque burden, adverse plaque characteristics, and disease activity. Together, they can provide comprehensive, individualized assessments of coronary atherosclerosis as it occurs in patients. Not only can this information provide important pathological insights, but it can also potentially be used to guide personalized treatment decisions. In this Review, we describe the latest advances in both established and emerging imaging techniques, focusing on the strengths and weakness of each approach. Moreover, we discuss how these technological advances might be translated from attractive images into novel imaging strategies and definite improvements in clinical risk prediction and patient outcomes. This process will not be easy, and the many potential barriers and difficulties are also reviewed.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat rev cardiol

Publication Date





533 - 548


Cardiac Imaging Techniques, Clinical Decision-Making, Coronary Artery Disease, Coronary Stenosis, Coronary Vessels, Humans, Plaque, Atherosclerotic, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Reproducibility of Results, Severity of Illness Index