Article Abstract

Spotty calcification and plaque vulnerability in vivo: frequency-domain optical coherence tomography analysis

Authors: Yu Kataoka, Rishi Puri, Muhammad Hammadah, Bhanu Duggal, Kiyoko Uno, Samir R. Kapadia, E. Murat Tuzcu, Steven E. Nissen, Stephen J. Nicholls


Background: Spotty calcification is a morphological characteristic of a vulnerable plaque phenotype. While this calcium pattern is considered an active process, promoted by inflammation, it is unknown whether spotty calcification associates with development of microstructures observed in vulnerable plaques. As frequencydomain optical coherence tomography (FD-OCT) enables visualization of microstructures associated with plaque vulnerability, we investigated the association between spotty calcification and plaque microstructures by using FD-OCT.
Methods: A total of 300 patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD), having clinical indication for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), were analyzed. Totally 280 non-culprit lipid plaques within the target vessel requiring PCI were evaluated by FD-OCT. Spotty calcification was defined as a presence of lesion <4 mm in length, containing an arc of calcification <90° on FD-OCT. Plaque microstructures were compared in non-culprit lipid-rich plaques with and without spotty calcification.
Results: Spotty calcification was observed in 39.6% of non-culprit lipid-rich plaques, with 30.6% of these plaques demonstrating multiple spotty calcifications. Plaques containing spotty calcification exhibited a greater lipid index (= averaged lipid arc × lipid length); 1,511.8±1,522.3 vs. 815.2±1,040.3 mm°, P<0.0001), thinner fibrous caps (89.0±31.6 vs. 136.5±32.5 μm, P=0.002) and a higher prevalence of microchannels (45.9% vs. 17.7%, P=0.007). A significant association was observed between the number of spotty calcifications per plaque and fibrous cap thickness (r=-0.40, P=0.006). Increased number of spotty calcification was also associated with a higher prevalence of microchannel within plaques (P=0.01).
Conclusions: In patients with stable CAD requiring PCI, the presence of spotty calcification imaged by FD-OCT was associated with features of greater plaque vulnerability.