Invasive and non-invasive assessment of ischaemia in chronic coronary syndromes: translating pathophysiology to clinical practice

Eur Heart J. 2021 Sep 13;ehab548. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehab548. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Intracoronary physiology testing has emerged as a valuable diagnostic approach in the management of patients with chronic coronary syndrome, circumventing limitations like inferring coronary function from anatomical assessment and low spatial resolution associated with angiography or non-invasive tests. The value of hyperaemic translesional pressure ratios to estimate the functional relevance of coronary stenoses is supported by a wealth of prognostic data. The continuing drive to further simplify this approach led to the development of non-hyperaemic pressure-based indices. Recent attention has focussed on estimating physiology without even measuring coronary pressure. However, the reduction in procedural time and ease of accessibility afforded by these simplifications needs to be counterbalanced against the increasing burden of physiological assumptions, which may impact on the ability to reliably identify an ischaemic substrate, the ultimate goal during catheter laboratory assessment. In that regard, measurement of both coronary pressure and flow enables comprehensive physiological evaluation of both epicardial and microcirculatory components of the vasculature, although widespread adoption has been hampered by perceived technical complexity and, in general, an underappreciation of the role of the microvasculature. In parallel, entirely non-invasive tools have matured, with the utilization of various techniques including computational fluid dynamic and quantitative perfusion analysis. This review article appraises the strengths and limitations for each test in investigating myocardial ischaemia and discusses a comprehensive algorithm that could be used to obtain a diagnosis in all patients with angina scheduled for coronary angiography, including those who are not found to have obstructive epicardial coronary disease.

Keywords: Coronary circulation; Stable coronary artery disease; Coronary physiology.