Detection of lipid core coronary plaques in autopsy specimens with a novel catheter-based near-infrared spectroscopy system

Craig M Gardner, Huwei Tan, Edward L Hull, Jennifer B Lisauskas, Stephen T Sum, Thomas M Meese, Chunsheng Jiang, Sean P Madden, Jay D Caplan, Allen P Burke, Renu Virmani, James Goldstein, James E Muller
JACC. Cardiovascular Imaging 2008, 1 (5): 638-48

OBJECTIVES: This study sought to assess agreement between an intravascular near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) system and histology in coronary autopsy specimens.

BACKGROUND: Lipid core plaques cannot be detected by conventional tests, yet are suspected to be the cause of most acute coronary syndromes. Near-infrared spectroscopy is widely used to determine the chemical content of substances. A NIRS system has been developed and used successfully in 99 patients.

METHODS: Scanning NIRS was performed through blood in 212 coronary segments from 84 autopsy hearts. One histologic section was analyzed for every 2 mm of artery. Lipid core plaque of interest (LCP) was defined as a lipid core >60 degrees in circumferential extent, >200-microm thick, with a mean fibrous cap thickness <450 microm. The first 33 hearts were used to develop the algorithm; the subsequent 51 validation hearts were used in a prospective, double-blind manner to evaluate the accuracy of NIRS in detecting LCP. A NIRS-derived lipid core burden index for an entire artery was also validated by comparison to histologic findings.

RESULTS: The LCPs were present in 115 of 2,649 (4.3%) sections from the 51 validation hearts. The algorithm prospectively identified LCP with a receiver-operator characteristic area of 0.80 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.76 to 0.85). The lipid core burden index detected the presence or absence of any fibroatheroma with an area under the curve of 0.86 (95% CI: 0.81 to 0.91). A retrospective analysis of lipid core burden index conducted in extreme artery segments with either no or extensive fibroatheroma yielded an area under the curve of 0.96 (95% CI: 0.92 to 1.00), confirming the accuracy of spectroscopy in identifying plaques with markedly different lipid content under ideal circumstances.

CONCLUSIONS: This novel catheter-based NIRS system accurately identified lipid core plaques through blood in a prospective study in coronary autopsy specimens. It is expected that this novel capability will be of assistance in the management of patients with coronary artery disease.

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