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Circ J. 2013;77(9):2334-40. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

Volumetric characterization of human coronary calcification by frequency-domain optical coherence tomography.

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Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University.



Coronary artery calcification (CAC) presents unique challenges for percutaneous coronary intervention. Calcium appears as a signal-poor region with well-defined borders by frequency-domain optical coherence tomography (FD-OCT). The objective of this study was to demonstrate the accuracy of intravascular FD-OCT to determine the distribution of CAC.


Cadaveric coronary arteries were imaged using FD-OCT at 100-μm frame interval. Arteries were subsequently frozen, sectioned and imaged at 20-μm intervals using the Case Cryo-Imaging automated system(TM). Full volumetric co-registration between FD-OCT and cryo-imaging was performed. Calcium area, calcium-lumen distance (depth) and calcium angle were traced on every cross-section; volumetric quantification was performed offline. In total, 30 left anterior descending arteries were imaged: 13 vessels had a total of 55 plaques with calcification by cryo-imaging; FD-OCT identified 47 (85%) of these plaques. A total of 1,285 cryo-images were analyzed and compared with corresponding co-registered 257 FD-OCT images. Calcium distribution, represented by the mean depth and the mean calcium angle, was similar, with excellent correlation between FD-OCT and cryo-imaging respectively (mean depth: 0.25±0.09 vs. 0.26±0.12mm, P=0.742; R=0.90), (mean angle: 35.33±21.86° vs. 39.68±26.61°, P=0.207; R=0.90). Calcium volume was underestimated in large calcifications (3.11±2.14 vs. 4.58±3.39mm(3), P=0.001) in OCT vs. cryo respectively.


Intravascular FD-OCT can accurately characterize CAC distribution. OCT can quantify absolute calcium volume, but may underestimate calcium burden in large plaques with poorly defined abluminal borders.

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