Fractional flow reserve as a surrogate for inducible myocardial ischaemia

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2013 Aug;10(8):439-52. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2013.86. Epub 2013 Jun 11.


Documentation of inducible myocardial ischaemia, related to the coronary stenosis of interest, is of increasing importance in lesion selection for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Fractional flow reserve (FFR) is an easily understood, routine diagnostic modality that has become part of daily clinical practice, and is used as a surrogate technique for noninvasive assessment of myocardial ischaemia. However, the application of a single, discrete, cut-off value for FFR-guided lesion selection for PCI, and its adoption in contemporary revascularization guidelines, has limited the requirement for a thorough understanding of the physiological basis of FFR. This limitation constitutes an obstacle for the adequate use and interpretation of this technique, and also for the understanding of new and future modalities of physiological functional intracoronary testing. In this Review, we revisit the fundamental elements of coronary physiology in the absence or presence of coronary artery disease. We provide insight into three essential characteristics of FFR as a diagnostic tool in contemporary clinical practice--the theoretical framework of FFR and its associated limitations; the characteristics and role of FFR as a surrogate for noninvasively assessed myocardial ischaemia; and the requirement and associated caveats of potent vasodilatory drugs to induce maximal vasodilatation of the coronary vascular bed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Catheterization*
  • Coronary Stenosis / complications
  • Coronary Stenosis / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Stenosis / physiopathology
  • Coronary Stenosis / therapy
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia / physiopathology
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Patient Selection
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vasodilator Agents


  • Vasodilator Agents