Atherosclerosis, the narrowing of vessel diameter and build-up of plaques in coronary arteries, leads to an increase in the shear stresses present, which can be used as a physics-based trigger for targeted drug delivery. In order to develop
appropriate nanometer-size containers, one has to know the morphology of the critical stenoses with isotropic
micrometer resolution. Micro computed tomography in absorption and phase contrast mode provides the necessary
spatial resolution and contrast. The present communication describes the pros and cons of the conventional and
synchrotron radiation-based approaches in the visualization of diseased human and murine arteries. Using registered
datasets, it also demonstrates that multi-modal imaging, including established histology, is even more powerful. The
tomography data were evaluated with respect to cross-section, vessel radius and maximal constriction. The average
cross-section of the diseased human artery (2.31 mm2) was almost an order of magnitude larger than the murine one (0.27 mm2), whereas the minimal radius differs only by a factor of two (0.51 mm versus 0.24 mm). The maximal constriction, however, was much larger for the human specimen (85% versus 49%). We could also show that a plastic model used for recent experiments in targeted drug delivery represents a very similar morphology, which is, for example, characterized by a maximal constriction of 82%. The tomography data build a sound basis for flow simulations, which allows for conclusions on shear stress distributions in stenosed blood vessels.