Patients suffering from a transient ischemic attack (TIA) are at high risk of a stroke or recurrent TIA, with about half of all recurrent events during the seven days after a TIA occurring in the first 24 hours. These events are usually caused by thromboembolization from ruptured carotid atherosclerotic plaques. Large trials have shown that carotid endarterectomy benefits patients with high grade carotid stenosis, but the risk-to-benefit ratio was less clear-cut for symptomatic patients with moderate stenosis (50–69%). Therefore, identification of high-risk plaques within this group could significantly decrease the ratio.

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