Optical coherence tomography for elucidation of flow-diversion phenomena: The concept of endothelized mural thrombus behind reversible in-stent stenosis in flow-diverters

Interv Neuroradiol. 2021 Dec;27(6):774-780. doi: 10.1177/15910199211003432. Epub 2021 Mar 22.


Purpose: Flow-diverters have revolutionized the endovascular treatment of intracranial aneurysms, offering a durable solution to aneurysms with high recurrence rates after conventional stent-assisted coiling. Events that occur after treatment with flow-diversion, such as in-stent stenosis (ISS) are not well understood and require further assessment. After assessing an animal model with Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), we propose a concept that could explain the mechanism causing reversible ISS after treatment of intracranial aneurysms with flow-diverters.

Methods: Six Pipeline Flex embolization devices (PED-Flex), six PED with Shield technology (PED-Shield), and four Solitaire AB devices were implanted in the carotid arteries (two stents per vessel) of four pigs. Intravascular optical coherence tomography (OCT) and digital subtraction angiography (DSA) images obtained on day 21 were compared to histological specimens.

Results: A case of ISS in a PED-Flex device was assessed with OCT imaging. Neointima with asymmetrical topography completely covering the PED struts was observed. Histological preparations of the stenotic area demonstrated thrombus on the surface of device struts, covered by neointima.

Conclusion: This study provides a plausible concept for reversible ISS in flow-diverters. Based on an observation of a previous experiment, we propose that similar cases of ISS are related to thrombus presence underneath endothelization, but further experiments focused on this phenomenon are needed. Optical Coherence Tomography will be useful tool when available for clinical use.

Keywords: Intracranial aneurysm; flow diverter; optical coherence tomography; stenosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Constriction, Pathologic
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Aneurysm* / therapy
  • Stents
  • Swine
  • Thrombosis*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence