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Heart doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2012-303421
  • Editorial

Plaques with high lipid burden: keeping the fat out of the fire

  1. Annapoorna S Kini1
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, Zena and Michael A Wiener Cardiovascular Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jagat Narula, Department of Cardiology, Zena and Michael A Wiener Cardiovascular Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA; jagat.narula{at}mountsinai.org
  • Received 25 November 2012
  • Revised 18 December 2012
  • Accepted 19 December 2012
  • Published Online First 24 January 2013

Two recent papers published in Heart have evaluated the utility of advanced imaging modalities for the morphological detection and evaluation of high-risk atherosclerotic plaques.1 ,2 While these studies employed differing methodologies (CT angiography (CTA), optical coherence tomography (OCT) and optic angioscopy), the results are broadly concordant and of major potential clinical significance. Notably, when subjected to percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), such high-risk plaques may embolise and release a slurry of lipid-rich necrotic debris to the distal circulation, with consequent myocardial damage. In addition, it has been proposed that PCI of lipid-rich plaques (LRP) with thin fibrous caps (<65 μm; thin-cap fibroatheroma (TCFA)) may be associated with lipid embolisation. However, since stable angina patients do not require urgent intervention, detailed assessment of target lesions may be feasible for the recognition and assessment of LRP before elective PCI.

Radiofrequency intravascular ultrasound (RF-IVUS) analysis is useful in defining the distribution, severity and composition of atherosclerotic plaques. Although RF-IVUS lacks the spatial resolution to directly measure fibrous cap thickness, it has been proposed that a necrotic core without overlying fibrous tissue (necrotic core abutting lumen) may represent TCFA. The presence …