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Circ J. 2014;78(9):2099-110. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

Spontaneous coronary artery dissection.

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Cardiac Department, Hospital Universitario de La Princesa.


Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a rare but challenging clinical entity of unknown etiology. From a pathophysiological standpoint, SCAD may occur in patients with a coronary intimal tear (presenting with the classic angiographic "flap" and multiple lumens), but also in patients without an intimal rupture (presenting as an intramural hematoma). Until now, available information on SCAD was largely based on multiple, small case-series studies but, recently, data from relatively large registries have cast a new light on this disease. Classically, SCAD was thought to present in young females without traditional atherosclerotic risk factors but recent reports suggest a broader clinical spectrum encompassing older patients with associated coronary artery disease. In this review, we concentrate on 3 main aspects of this unique disease: (1) the value of intracoronary diagnostic techniques (intravascular ultrasound and optical coherence tomography) to complement coronary angiography and to provide novel diagnostic insights on this elusive clinical condition; (2) the growing clinical evidence suggesting an association and potential causation between fibromuscular dysplasia and SCAD; and (3) the challenges of coronary revascularization in this adverse anatomic setting, together with recent data suggesting that a initial, conservative medical management may be preferable for the majority of patients with SCAD.

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