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The Vulnerable Atherosclerotic Plaque: Evaluation of the Lipid Core in Human Coronary Arteries Using Morphometry

Papavdi, Asteria MD, PhD(c)*; Kornaraki, Georgia; Nikitakis, Antonis; Michalodimitrakis, Manolis MD, JD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 37–40
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3182186f4e
Original Articles

In Greece, mortality due to coronary artery disease has alarmingly increased during the past 3 decades, especially among younger adults between 30 and 40 years old. Many studies have been conducted over the years in an effort to interpret the presence of acute coronary phenomena—myocardial infarction, thrombosis, and sudden death—in early diagnosis and treatment. The current study focuses on postmortem data from individuals who had sudden coronary death. The coronary arteries of 100 individuals who were routinely subjected to autopsy at the Department of Forensic Sciences of the University of Crete were removed and examined, aiming at the evaluation of the degree of stenosis of the lumen and measurement of proportion of cholesterol in the plaque using Image Pro Plus 4.5. The average degree of stenosis was 79.01%, ranging from 11% to 99%. The cholesterol proportion was measured in 66 specimens, and the average was 25.05%, ranging between 5.3% and 66.3%, whereas 25 of them (37.8% overall) were found to contain cholesterol above the average. It resulted that the degree of stenosis was not of major importance in vulnerable plaques and that the amount of cholesterol followed an almost linear pattern of accumulation.

From the *Department of Forensic Sciences, Medical School, University of Crete; and †Technological Educational Institute of Heraklion, Heraklion, Greece.

Manuscript received October 12, 2010; accepted January 14, 2011.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Asteria Papavdi, MD, PhD(c), Poleos Prokopiou 23, Athens, Greece. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.