Objective: Previous studies have investigated the predictive value of clinical and morphologic parameters for distal embolization during carotid interventions. The composition of the atherosclerotic plaque, using virtual histology intravascular ultrasound (VH-IVUS) imaging obtained with an IVUS catheter that is advanced through the lesion after a filter has been placed distally, has not been evaluated as a marker for cerebral embolization. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between atherosclerotic plaque composition determined with VH-IVUS and the occurrence of cerebral embolization after carotid artery stenting (CAS). Methods: During a 10-month period, 24 patients undergoing CAS procedures using a filter device for embolic protection were prospectively evaluated. All patients underwent VH-IVUS exams at the time of the intervention, transcranial Doppler (TCD) monitoring during CAS, and pre- and 24-hour postprocedural diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) exams. Using VH-IVUS, plaque components were characterized as fibrotic, fibrofatty, dense calcium, and necrotic core. The frequency of Doppler-detected microembolic signals (MES) during CAS and the incidence and location of acute postprocedural embolic lesions detected with DW-MRI were assessed to determine cerebral embolization. Univariate and correlation analyses were used to assess the association between plaque composition and frequency of cerebral embolization. Results: No periprocedural transient ischemic attacks, strokes, or deaths occurred within 30 days. Seventeen patients (71%) demonstrated new acute cerebral emboli in DW-MRI. Of these, all revealed ipsilateral lesions and 12 (50%) had contralateral lesions. For the entire study group, the median number of ipsilateral DW-MRI lesions was 1 (range, 0 to 3), and TCD MES counts were 227 (interquartile range, 143-315). Volumetric VH-IVUS analysis revealed that there was a trend for larger median dense calcium volume in patients with ipsilateral subclinical cerebral embolism detected with DW-MRI (33.2 ± 24.5 mm3 vs 11.4 ± 6.1 mm3; P = .08). Scatter plots of plaque components revealed statistically significant correlation between fibrofatty plaque volume (Spearman r = 0.49; P = .016) and number of new ipsilateral lesions in DW-MRI. Degree of cerebral embolization during CAS measured with TCD correlated with plaque burden, necrotic core, fibrofatty, and fibrous volumes. Conclusions: Plaque composition, as determined by VH-IVUS, only weakly correlates with the degree of cerebral embolization after carotid stenting. Specifically, there is a trend for larger dense calcium volume in patients with distal embolization. Of note, the proportion of necrotic core, which has traditionally been considered the main component of a vulnerable or unstable plaque, is not definitely associated with subclinical cerebral embolization after CAS when a filter device for embolic protection is used. The role of VH-IVUS in evaluating plaque composition during CAS remains unestablished and warrants further investigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine