Date of Award


First Advisor

Patricia Dooley

Second Advisor

Erin McMullin

Third Advisor

Claudia Calcagno


Atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease and major health concern throughout the world, precedes cardiovascular disease. There are numerous imaging techniques that require clinical investigation prior to clinical application, but which are also promising tools to detect atherosclerotic plaques before they become a severe and irreversible condition. The application of specialized imaging techniques for detection of early stage atherosclerosis is expected to reduce injury, death, and expenses associated with vulnerable atherosclerotic features in patients exhibiting high risk of a clinical event. Novel dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques utilized in this study evaluate atherosclerotic plaque permeability. The DCEMRI techniques, namely, Simultaneous HIgh-/low-temporal, LOw-/high-spatial resolution (SHILO) and 3-dimensional (3D) DCE-MRI, are capable of revealing certain atherosclerotic tissue features responsible for high mortality and morbidity rates in the Western world. Atherosclerosis-induced New Zealand white male rabbits underwent DCE-MRI examination to test intra-observer, inter-observer, and inter-scan reproducibility. Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Bland-Altman plot analyses were performed to assess the reliability of SHILO and 3D DCE-MRI to detect atherosclerotic plaque permeability. The results of this study indicated high reproducibility overall, suggesting that further research should take measures to confirm such results and seek improvement of these techniques in order to provide highest quality clinical and preclinical application for detection of early stage atherosclerosis.

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