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Intracoronary Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) Imaging for Detection of Lipid Content of Coronary Plaques: Current Experience and Future Perspectives.

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Department of Cardiology, University Heart Center, University Hospital Zurich, Raemistrasse 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland.


Acute coronary syndromes are frequently caused by "vulnerable" coronary plaques with a lipid-rich core. In 1993 near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was first used to detect the lipid (cholesterol) content of atherosclerotic plaques in an experimental animal study. NIRS was then carefully validated using human atherosclerotic plaques (ex vivo), and has subsequently been developed for intracoronary imaging in humans, for which now an FDA-approved catheter-based NIRS system is available. NIRS provides a "chemogram" of the coronary artery wall and is used to detect lipid-rich plaques. Using this technology, recent studies have shown that lipid-rich plaques are very frequent in the culprit lesion of patients with an acute coronary syndrome, and are also common in non-culprit coronary lesions in these patients as compared to patients with stable coronary disease. First studies are evaluating the impact of statin therapy on coronary NIRS-detected lipid cores. Intracoronary NIRS imaging represents a highly interesting method for coronary plaque characterization in humans and may become a valuable tool for the development of novel therapies aiming to impact on the biology of human coronary artery plaques, likely in combination with other intracoronary imaging techniques, such as optical coherence tomography.


Acute coronary syndromes; Chemogram; Coronary lesions; Intracoronary near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) Imaging; Lipid content of coronary plaques

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