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Case series
Macrocalcification of intracranial vertebral artery may be related to in-stent restenosis: lessons learned from optical coherence tomography


Background Calcification has been proven to be a marker of atherosclerosis and is related to an increased risk of ischemic stroke. Additionally, calcification was reported to be prevalent in patients with stenotic lesions of the intracranial vertebral artery. Thus, reliable imaging facilities for evaluating plaque calcification have remarkable significance in guiding stenting and predicting patient outcomes. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has a unique advantage in its ability to detect calcium and to achieve three-dimensional volumetric calcium characterization.

Methods From March 2017 to September 2018, seven cases of calcified lesions with intracranial vertebral artery stenosis were investigated using OCT, before and after the placement of an Apollo balloon-mounted stent. Transcranial color-coded duplex sonography was performed to identify restenosis with a mean follow-up time of 13.3 months in this case series.

Results All calcified lesions were evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively using OCT. Among all cases, five had macrocalcifications and two had spotty calcifications. Severe in-stent restenosis was observed in two cases, both with macrocalcifications.

Conclusions This study suggests a potential relationship between macrocalcifications and the risk of in-stent restenosis of the intracranial vertebral artery. These preliminary findings obtained from a limited sample should be verified by prospective large-scale studies.

  • stenosis
  • atherosclerosis
  • plaque
  • stroke

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