Visual Abstract

Fractional flow reserve (FFR) may not be immune from hemodynamic perturbations caused by both vessel and lesion related factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of plaque- and vessel wall-related features of vulnerability on the hemodynamic effect of intermediate coronary stenoses. Methods and Results: In this cross-sectional study, patients referred to catheterization laboratory for clinically indicated coronary angiography were prospectively screened for angiographically intermediate stenosis (50–80%). Seventy lesions from 60 patients were evaluated. Mean angiographic stenosis was 62.1 ± 16.3%. After having performed FFR assessment, intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) was performed over the FFR wire. Virtual histology IVUS was used to identify the plaque components and thin cap fibroatheroma (TCFA). TCFA was significantly more frequent (65 vs. 38%, p = 0.026), and necrotic core volume (26.15 ± 14.22 vs. 16.21 ± 8.93 mm3, p = 0.04) was significantly larger in the positively remodeled than non-remodeled vessels. Remodeling index correlated with necrotic core volume (r = 0.396, p = 0.001) and with FFR (r = –0. 419, p = 0.001). With respect to plaque components, only necrotic core area (r = –0.262, p = 0.038) and necrotic core volume (r = –0.272, p = 0.024) were independently associated with FFR. In the multivariable model, presence of TCFA was independently associated with significantly lower mean FFR value as compared to absence of TCFA (adjusted, 0.71 vs. 0.78, p = 0.034). Conclusion: The current study demonstrated that for a given stenosis geometry, features of plaque vulnerability such as necrotic core volume, TCFA, and positive remodeling may influence the hemodynamic relevance of intermediate coronary stenoses.

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