The role of calcium in atherosclerosis is controversial and the relationship between vascular calcification and plaque vulnerability is not fully understood. Although calcifications are present in ≈50% to 60% of carotid plaques, their association with cerebrovascular ischemic events remains unclear. In this review, we summarize current understanding of carotid plaque calcification. We outline the role of calcium in atherosclerotic carotid disease by analyzing laboratory studies and histopathologic studies, as well as imaging findings to understand clinical implications of carotid artery calcifications. Differences in mechanism of calcium deposition express themselves into a wide range of calcification phenotypes in carotid plaques. Some patterns, such as rim calcification, are suggestive of plaques with inflammatory activity with leakage of the vasa vasourm and intraplaque hemorrhage. Other patterns such as dense, nodular calcifications may confer greater mechanical stability to the plaque and reduce the risk of embolization for a given degree of plaque size and luminal stenosis. Various distributions and patterns of carotid plaque calcification, often influenced by the underlying systemic pathological condition, have a different role in affecting plaque stability. Modern imaging techniques afford multiple approaches to assess geometry, pattern of distribution, size, and composition of carotid artery calcifications. Future investigations with these novel technologies will further improve our understanding of carotid artery calcification and will play an important role in understanding and minimizing stroke risk in patients with carotid plaques.

Carotid Artery Plaque Calcifications: Lessons From Histopathology to Diagnostic Imaging

Saba, Luca;Cau, Riccardo;Balestrieri, Antonella;Congiu, Terenzio;Fanni, Daniela;Cerrone, Giulia;Sanfilippo, Roberto;Mannelli, Lorenzo;Faa, Gavino;
2022

Abstract

The role of calcium in atherosclerosis is controversial and the relationship between vascular calcification and plaque vulnerability is not fully understood. Although calcifications are present in ≈50% to 60% of carotid plaques, their association with cerebrovascular ischemic events remains unclear. In this review, we summarize current understanding of carotid plaque calcification. We outline the role of calcium in atherosclerotic carotid disease by analyzing laboratory studies and histopathologic studies, as well as imaging findings to understand clinical implications of carotid artery calcifications. Differences in mechanism of calcium deposition express themselves into a wide range of calcification phenotypes in carotid plaques. Some patterns, such as rim calcification, are suggestive of plaques with inflammatory activity with leakage of the vasa vasourm and intraplaque hemorrhage. Other patterns such as dense, nodular calcifications may confer greater mechanical stability to the plaque and reduce the risk of embolization for a given degree of plaque size and luminal stenosis. Various distributions and patterns of carotid plaque calcification, often influenced by the underlying systemic pathological condition, have a different role in affecting plaque stability. Modern imaging techniques afford multiple approaches to assess geometry, pattern of distribution, size, and composition of carotid artery calcifications. Future investigations with these novel technologies will further improve our understanding of carotid artery calcification and will play an important role in understanding and minimizing stroke risk in patients with carotid plaques.
atherosclerosis
carotid arteries
mortality
tomography
vascular calcification
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/322801
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