Reports on vascular pathology post-PTCA in both human and animal coronary vessels have revealed medial and intimal cracks and tears, thrombus formation, platelet accumulation, and loss of endothelial cells. The extent and type of damage can currently be assessed in vivo at the macro level by means of coronary artery angiography. However, this technique cannot define vessel wall characteristics at the cellular level. Our hypothesis is that vessel wall material may adhere to the balloon and thus provide a source for coronary artery cytological investigation in vivo. Ten balloon catheters were evaluated to discern any material which was dislodged from the coronary artery and which remained attached to the balloon catheter or guide wire. Our results indicate that angioplasty catheter balloons frequently have adherent collagen, endothelial cells, organized thrombus, and plaque with obvious cholesterol clefts, that can be retrieved and examined histologically. We conclude that material is often dislodged from the plaque during PTCA. In addition, plaque material removed by the balloon catheter offers an unusual opportunity to analyze the morphologic characteristics of cells from the human coronary artery in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine