Guidewire withdrawal in ascending aorta increases cerebral microembolism during coronary angiography: a randomized comparison of two guidewire techniques

J Invasive Cardiol. 2014 Jan;26(1):1-6.


Background: Microemboli are frequently detected entering the middle cerebral arteries during coronary angiography (CA). Recent studies have reported that cerebral microemboli, especially particulate cerebral microemboli, may cause silent ischemic cerebral lesions.

Aims: To investigate whether the occurrence of particulate cerebral microemboli during diagnostic CA is influenced by which guidewire technique is used.

Methods: Patients with stable angina pectoris or non-ST elevation acute coronary syndrome, referred for CA, were randomized to initial advancement of catheters with a leading guidewire over the aortic arch or to initial guidewire withdrawal in the descending aorta with advancement of catheters alone. After completed CA (part 1), new catheters and guidewires were advanced with guidewire technique contrary to the one first used (part 2). Patients were continuously monitored with transcranial Doppler (TCD), and cerebral microemboli were automatically counted and differentiated.

Results: Statistical analysis was performed on 41 patients. The results in part 1 were confirmed in part 2. The median number (interquartile range) of particulate cerebral microemboli was significantly higher when catheters were advanced with, compared to without, a guidewire over the aortic arch; overall, 6 (IQR, 1-9) vs 1 (IQR, 0-3); P=.01.

Conclusions: Advancement of catheters with a leading guidewire over the aortic arch with subsequent flushing in the ascending aorta consistently generated more particulate cerebral microemboli, implying that the choice of guidewire technique has an impact on the risk for cerebral lesions during CA.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Aged
  • Angina, Stable / diagnosis
  • Angina, Stable / diagnostic imaging
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Aorta*
  • Aorta, Thoracic*
  • Coronary Angiography / adverse effects*
  • Coronary Angiography / instrumentation
  • Coronary Angiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Fondaparinux
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intracranial Embolism / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Embolism / epidemiology*
  • Intracranial Embolism / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial


  • Anticoagulants
  • Polysaccharides
  • Fondaparinux