Calcification influences the outcome of various angioplasty techniques in the treatment of coronary artery disease. During angioscopic in vitro studies, we observed that dissections and perforations not caused by vessel bending frequently occurred at the boundary areas of plaque and adjacent vessel wall. This study investigated whether this is related to the distribution of calcifie deposits.
Postmortem excimer laser coronary angioplasty (308-nm XeCI) was performed in 51 stenotic coronary arteries. Twenty-three segments were further examined; these consisted of 11 perforations, six dissections, three segments with no ablative effect after the application of 20,000 laser impulses, and three successfully passed stenoses without complications. X-ray diffraction analysis and scanning electron microscopy were performed to detect calcium deposits and their spatial relationship to perforations and dissections.
X-ray diffractions analysis detected calcifications in 21 of 23 specimens. Postmortem angiography revealed calcifications only on 11 of 23 segments. Three of 11 perforations were located at the plaque border, as were three of six dissections. In all six complications at the plaque border, x-ray diffraction analysis revealed that the plaque border was identical with a border of calcium deposits. Eight of 11 perforations and three of six dissections could be explained by axis divergence between the laser catheter and the vessel orientation.
Contributing factors for perforations and dissections during excimer laser coronary angioplasty are axis divergence and the distribution of plaque calcification. More sensitive methods are needed to detect local vessel wall calcium in vivo.
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