Background: There are few data about the intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) findings in patients with vasospastic angina, especially regarding patterns of vascular remodeling.
Methods and results: Coronary spasm was documented by angiography and electrocardiographic evidence of ischemia in 36 patients after administration of ergonovine (cumulative doses up to 350 microg). After relief of spasm with 1000 microg of intracoronary nitroglycerin, quantitative angiography and IVUS imaging were performed and analyzed by standard methods. The 36 focal spasm sites were compared with the proximal and distal reference segments. The angiographic baseline minimum lumen diameter measured 1.78 +/- 0.66 mm, which decreased to 0.66 +/- 0.38 mm with ergonovine provocation (P <.0001), increased to 2.66 +/- 0.64 mm after intracoronary nitroglycerin (P <.0001 compared with baseline and after ergonovine), and did not change after IVUS imaging (2.66 +/- 0.63, P =.9). By IVUS, atherosclerotic lesions were observed at all coronary spasm sites; the mean plaque burden measured 56% at the spasm site and 35% at the reference. Spasm site plaque composition was hypoechoic in 31 and hyperechoic, noncalcific in 5; there was no calcium. The mean eccentricity index (maximum divided by minimum plaque thickness) was 6.7. Positive remodeling (spasm site arterial area greater than proximal reference) was present in 5; intermediate remodeling (proximal reference greater than spasm site greater than distal reference arterial area) was present in 7; and negative remodeling (spasm site arterial area less than distal reference) was present in 24.
Conclusions: Sites of vasospasm in patients with variant angina showed characteristics of early atherosclerosis, except for an unusually high incidence of negative arterial remodeling.