Spotty calcification typifies the culprit plaque in patients with acute myocardial infarction: an intravascular ultrasound study

Circulation. 2004 Nov 30;110(22):3424-9. doi: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000148131.41425.E9. Epub 2004 Nov 22.


Background: Calcification is a common finding in human coronary arteries; however, the relationship between calcification patterns, plaque morphology, and patterns of remodeling of culprit lesions in a comparison of patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and those with stable conditions has not been documented.

Methods and results: Preinterventional intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) images of 178 patients were studied, 61 with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), 70 with unstable angina pectoris (UAP), and 47 with stable angina pectoris (SAP). The frequency of calcium deposits within an arc of less than 90 degrees for all calcium deposits was significantly different in culprit lesions of patients with AMI, UAP, and SAP (P<0.0001). Moreover, the average number of calcium deposits within an arc of <90 degrees per patient was significantly higher in AMI than in SAP (P<0.0005; mean+/-SD, AMI 1.4+/-1.3, SAP 0.5+/-0.8). Conversely, calcium deposits were significantly longer in SAP patients (P<0.0001; mean+/-SD, AMI 2.2+/-1.6, UAP 1.9+/-1.8, and SAP 4.3+/-3.2 mm). In AMI patients, the typical pattern was spotty calcification, associated with a fibrofatty plaque and positive remodeling. In ACS patients showing negative remodeling, no calcification was the most frequent observation. Conversely, SAP patients had the highest frequency of extensive calcification.

Conclusions: Our observations show that IVUS allows the identification of vulnerable plaques in coronary arteries, not only by identifying a fibrofatty plaque and positive remodeling, but also by identifying a spotty pattern of calcification.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / diagnostic imaging*
  • Angina, Unstable / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Vessels / chemistry
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional


  • Calcium