Complete occlusion of the left main coronary artery: clinical and angiographic observations in five cases

L Slunga, P Eriksson, G Osterman
Journal of Internal Medicine 1989, 225 (2): 123-7
Involvement of the left main coronary artery is observed in approximately 5 to 8% of patients with coronary artery lesions detected by coronary angiography, but occlusion of the left main artery is a very infrequent finding. Out of approximately 4000 patients undergoing coronary angiography, four men and one woman, 37 to 60 years old, showed total occlusion of this vessel. Four of them had angina pectoris and three had had a myocardial infarction. All five showed deep ST depression in V 2(or 3)-6 during bicycle exercise testing. Apart from the left main artery occlusion, all had significant obstructive lesions in other coronary vessels, including the right coronary artery or its major branches. There was collateral circulation from the right coronary artery in all patients. Left ventricular function was well preserved in three patients and markedly impaired in two. Four patients underwent bypass surgery and they have been followed for 10 to 28 months. Three are free of angina and one has only minimal angina. One patient refused surgery and he continued to have severe angina despite intense medical treatment. He died suddenly after 30 months follow-up. In patients with complete occlusion of the left main coronary artery, development of adequate collateral flow seems important in preserving left ventricular function, but collaterals are usually insufficient to prevent angina. Moreover, associated obstructive lesions in other coronary arteries constitute a potential threat to the collateral circulation. Effective symptomatic relief is obtained by coronary bypass grafting, and revascularization may also improve prognosis in this subset of patients with coronary heart disease.

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