Assessment of Culprit and Remote Coronary Narrowings Using Optical Coherence Tomography With Long-Term Outcomes
Much currently known information about vulnerable plaque stems from postmortem studies that identified several characteristics making them prone to rupture, including the presence of a thin fibrous cap and a large lipid core. This study used optical coherence tomography (OCT) to assess culprit and remote coronary narrowings and investigate whether intracoronary OCT in living patients was able to visualize morphologic features associated with vulnerable plaque in postmortem studies. Twenty-three patients successfully underwent OCT before percutaneous coronary intervention. The culprit lesion and mild to moderate coronary narrowings remote from the target stenosis were investigated. Using OCT, the culprit lesion was found to be fibrous in 39.1%, fibrocalcific in 34.4%, and lipid rich in 26.1% of cases. Two patients met criteria for thin-cap fibroatheroma (TCFA; defined as the presence of a signal-rich fibrous cap covering a signal-poor lipid/necrotic core with cap thickness <0.2 mm). Most plaques at remote segments were proximal to the culprit lesion (73.9%) and predominantly fibrous and lipid rich. OCT identified 7 TCFA lesions in 6 patients with a mean cap thickness of 0.19 ± 0.05 mm, extending for 103° ± 49° of the total vessel circumference. At 24 months of clinical follow-up, the only event occurred in a patient with in-stent restenosis who underwent repeated percutaneous revascularization. There were no clinically apparent plaque rupture-related events in the 6 patients found to have remote TCFA. This study showed that OCT can be safely applied to image beyond the culprit lesion and can detect in vivo morphologic features associated with plaque vulnerability using retrospective pathologic examination. In conclusion, detection of TCFA, particularly in stable patients, is desirable and may principally allow for early intervention and prevention of adverse events.