Application of Virtual Histological Intravascular Ultrasound in Plaque Composition Assessment of Saphenous Vein Graft Diseases

Saphenous vein grafts disease (SVGD) is a common complication after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and normally treated by percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). The most common complication after SVG-PCI is slow or no-reflow. It is known that the no-reflow phenomenon occurs in up to 15% of the SVG-PCI and is associated with high risk of major adverse cardiac events (MACEs) and mortality, therefore, it is important to investigate the factors that could predict the clinical outcome of PCI for risk stratification and guiding interventions. In recent years, the spectral analysis of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) radiofrequency data (virtual histology-IVUS [VH-IVUS]) has been used to provide quantitative assessment on both plaque compositions and morphologic characteristics. 

The PubMed, Embase, and Central databases were searched for possible relevant studies published from 1997 to 2018 using the following index keywords: “Coronary artery bypass grafting,” “Saphenous venous graft disease,” “Virtual histology-intravascular ultrasound,” “Virtual histology-intravascular ultrasound,” and “Percutaneous coronary intervention.” 

The primary references were Chinese and English articles including original studies and literature reviews, were identified and reviewed to summarize the advances in the application of VH-IVUS techniques in situ vascular and venous graft vascular lesions. 

With different plaque components exhibiting a defined spectrum, VH-IVUS can classify atherosclerotic plaque into four types: fibrous tissue (FT), fibro fatty (FF), necrotic core (NC), and dense calcium (DC). The radiofrequency signal is mathematically transformed into a color-coded representation, including lipid, fibrous tissue, calcification, and necrotic core. Several studies have demonstrated the independent relationship between VH-IVUS-defined plaque classification or plaque composition and MACEs, but a significant association between plaque components and no-reflow after PCI in acute coronary syndrome. In recent years, VH-IVUS are applied to assess the plaque composition of SVGD, based on the similarity of pathophysiological mechanisms between coronary artery disease (CAD) and SVGD, further studies with the larger sample size, the long-term follow-up, multicenter clinical trials may be warranted to investigate the relationship between plaque composition of saphenous vein graft (SVG) by VH-IVUS and clinical outcomes in patients with SVGD undergoing PCI. 

In degenerative SVG lesions, VH-IVUS found that plaque composition was associated with clinical features, future studies need to explore the relationship between VH-IVUS defined atherosclerotic plaque components and clinical outcomes in SVGD patients undergoing PCI, an innovative prediction tool of clinical outcomes can be created.