No-reflow phenomenon: pathophysiology, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. A review of the current literature and future perspectives

Angiology. 2014 Mar;65(3):180-9. doi: 10.1177/0003319712474336. Epub 2013 Jan 29.


No-reflow is responsible for 40% of the primary percutaneous coronary intervention without complete myocardial reperfusion despite successful reopening of the infarct-related artery. This review describes the main pathophysiological mechanisms of no-reflow, its clinical manifestation, including the strong association with increased in-hospital mortality, malignant arrhythmias, and cardiac failure as well as the diagnostic methods. The latter ranges from simple angiographic thrombolysis in myocardial infarction grade score to more complex angiographic indexes, imaging techniques such as myocardial contrast echo or cardiac magnetic resonance, and surrogate clinical end points such as ST-segment resolution. This review also summarizes the strategies of prevention and treatment of no-reflow, considering the most recent studies results regarding medical therapy and devices.

Keywords: ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction; diagnosis; future perspectives; ischemia-reperfusion injury; microvascular obstruction; no-reflow; pathophysiology; prevention; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Circulation*
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Intraoperative Complications / therapy
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention*