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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1991 Feb;17(2):449-57.

Transplant coronary artery disease: histopathologic correlations with angiographic morphology.

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Department of Pathology, Stanford University Medical Center, California 94305.


Accelerated coronary artery disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among cardiac transplant recipients. Ten patients who died or underwent retransplantation within 2 months of coronary angiography had direct correlation of angiographic (normal discrete lesions, diffuse concentric narrowing) with histologic appearance of coronary arteries. Of the 26 angiographically normal segments, 73% showed mild to moderate fibrous intimal thickening by light microscopy. The remainder had intermediate lesions or atheromatous plaques. Discrete stenoses usually corresponded to lipid-rich intermediate or atheromatous disease. In contrast, angiographically diffuse, concentrically narrowed lesions usually were areas of severe fibrous intimal thickening. Fresh or organizing thrombus was most often associated with discrete lesions and accounted for all complete occlusions. Histologic and angiographic comparisons of the degree of luminal narrowing showed generally good correlation for high grade stenoses. Lesions graded as having less than 25% diameter narrowing were often underestimated angiographically as compared with histologic determinations. Transplant coronary artery disease has a heterogeneous histologic and angiographic appearance, with angiographic underestimation of disease in some patients.

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