Interventional cardiologists make adjustments in the presence of coronary calcifications known to limit stent expansion, but proper balloon sizing, plaque-modification approaches, and high-pressure regimens are not well established. Intravascular optical coherence tomography (IVOCT) provides high-resolution images of coronary tissues, including detailed imaging of calcifications, and accurate measurements of stent deployment, providing a means for detailed study of stent deployment.
Evaluate stent expansion in an ex vivo model of calcified coronary arteries as a function of balloon size and high-pressure, post-dilatation strategies.
We conducted experiments on cadaver hearts with calcified coronary lesions. We assessed stent expansion as a function of size and pressure of non-compliant (NC) balloons (i.e., nominal, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 mm balloons at 10, 20 and 30 atm). IVOCT images were acquired pre-stent, post-stent, and at all post-dilatations. Stent expansion was calculated using minimum expansion index (MEI).
We analyzed 134 IVOCT pullbacks from ten ex-vivo experiments. The mean distal and proximal reference lumen diameters were 2.2 ± 0.5 mm and 2.5 ± 0.7 mm, respectively, 80% of times using a 3.0 mm diameter stent. Overall, based on stent sizing, a good expansion (MEI ≥ 80%) was reached using the 1:1 NC balloon at 20 atm, and expansion > 100% was reached using the 1:1 NC balloon at 30 atm. In the subgroup analysis, comparing low-calcified and high-calcified lesions, good expansion (MEI ≥ 80%) was reached using the 1:1 NC balloon at nominal pressure (10 atm) versus using 1:1 NC balloon at 30 atm, respectively. Significant vessel rupture was identified in all the vessels mainly upon post-dilatation with larger balloons, and 60% of the experiments (6 vessels, 3 in each calcium subgroup) presented rupture with the +1.0 mm NC balloon at 20 atm.
When treating calcified lesions, good stent expansion was reached using smaller balloons at higher pressures without coronary injuries, whereas bigger balloons yielded unpredictable expansion even at lower pressures and demonstrated potential harmful damages to the vessels. As these findings could help physicians with appropriate planning of stent post-dilatation for calcified lesions, it will be important to clinically evaluate the recommended protocol.

Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Inc.