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Case series
Optical coherence tomography evaluation of vertebrobasilar artery stenosis: case series and literature review


Background Intracranial vertebrobasilar artery stenosis is an important cause of ischemic stroke. With its high resolution, intravascular optical coherence tomography (OCT) provides detailed assessment of vessel wall features. It is widely applied to identify high-risk plaque in the cardiovascular system, but its use in the intracranial artery has been limited.

Objective To explore, in this pilot study, the usefulness of OCT in imaging of the intracranial artery wall.

Methods Between November 2017 and July 2018, four patients with severe intracranial vertebrobasilar artery stenosis were enrolled for preintervention OCT evaluation of the lesion artery. Stenosis was present in the basilar artery in one case and in the intracranial vertebral artery in three cases.

Results OCT images of the lesions showed various features of plaque vulnerability, such as intraluminal thrombus, lipid-rich plaque with plaque rupture, thin fibrous cap, macrophage accumulations, and a mixed lesion with dissecting aneurysm. In view of the OCT findings, all patients received balloon angioplasty and stent implantation.

Conclusions These cases describe the successful implementation of OCT in intracranial vertebrobasilar artery stenosis. No side effects were seen during the OCT imaging. This technology may help in the diagnosis and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

  • atherosclerosis
  • plaque
  • vessel wall

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