Atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability assessment and the ability to predict possible future rupture are of vital importance for early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases related to atherosclerosis. It has been hypothesized that critical stress conditions in the plaque may be closely related to plaque rupture and can be combined with current image-based assessment techniques for more accurate plaque evaluation. A major challenge for all available plaque assessment schemes is the lack of gold standard based on in vivo patient data where both ruptured and non-ruptured plaques were compared and analyzed. In vivo patient image data showing rupture verified by histological information (current gold standard) provided by excised specimens data will help to establish in vivo benchmark for image-based and/or stress-based assessment schemes.

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