Canadian Journal of Cardiology

Detection of Cholesterol Crystals in Progressive High-Intensity Plaque With the Use of T1-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Published:December 01, 2022DOI:
      A 53-year-old man presented to our department with unstable angina pectoris. Coronary computed tomography showed severe stenosis in the middle left anterior descending artery (LAD) (Fig. 1A), mild stenosis with a napkin-ring sign, positive remodelling, and a low-attenuation plaque in the proximal right coronary artery (RCA) (Fig. 1B). Noncontrast T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (T1WI MRI) revealed a high-intensity plaque (HIP) in the same RCA lesion (Fig. 1C; Video 1 , view video online). Coronary angiography (CAG) showed severe stenosis in the proximal LAD (Fig. 1D) and a mild plaque in the proximal RCA (Fig. 1E). Therefore, a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) was performed in the LAD and statin was started. Six months later, the patient experienced chest pain while exercising. T1WI MRI showed a progression in HIP volume and increased signal intensity of HIP in the RCA lesion compared with the previous encounter (Fig. 1F; Video 2 , view video online). CAG revealed severe stenosis in the proximal RCA, and therefore PCI was performed (Fig. 1G). Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) detected an attenuated plaque in the target lesion (Fig. 1H), for which a distal protection device was used (Fig. 1I). After balloon dilatation, electrocardiography showed ST-segment elevation in inferior leads and the slow-flow phenomenon was observed. IVUS after stent deployment revealed plaque prolapse through the stent struts (Fig. 1J). After PCI, a large amount of debris was collected in the device filter and cholesterol crystals were identified under a polarising microscope (Fig. 1, K and L). On the following day, the troponin T value increased to 0.216 ng/mL, and periprocedural myocardial injury (PMI) occurred.
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Coronary computed tomography showed (A) severe stenosis in the left anterior descending artery (LAD) and (B) mild stenosis in the right coronary artery (RCA). (C) High-intensity plaque (HIP) on T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (T1W1 MRI) (arrowhead) of the RCA. The coronary plaque–to–myocardium signal ratio (PMR) was 1.6. Coronary angiography (CAG) revealed (D) severe stenosis in the LAD (arrow) and (E) mild stenosis in the RCA (arrow). (F) Progression of HIP on T1W1 MRI of the RCA (arrowhead). The PMR was 2.5. (G) CAG revealed severe stenosis in the RCA (arrow). (H) Attenuation plaque on intravascular ultrasound (arrowheads). (I) Balloon dilatation with a distal protection device. (J). In-stent plaque protrusion on IVUS (arrows). (K, L) Cholesterol crystals under a polarising microscope.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Canadian Journal of Cardiology
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Matsumoto K.
        • Ehara S.
        • Hasegawa
        • et al.
        Localisation of coronary high-intensity signals on T1-Weighted MR imaging.
        JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2015; 8: 1143-1152