Assessing Microvascular Dysfunction in Angina With Unobstructed Coronary Arteries: JACC Review Topic of the Week

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 Oct 5;78(14):1471-1479. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.08.028.


Coronary microvascular dysfunction is a highly prevalent condition of both structural and functional coronary disorders in patients with angina and nonobstructive coronary artery disease (ANOCA). Current diagnostic modalities to assess microvascular function are related to prognosis, but these modalities have several technical shortcomings and lack the opportunity to determine true coronary blood flow and microvascular resistance. Intracoronary continuous thermodilution assessment of absolute coronary flow (Q) and microvascular resistance (R) was recently shown to be safe and feasible in ANOCA. Further exploration and implementation could lead to a better understanding and treatment of patients with ANOCA. This review discuss the coronary pathophysiology of microvascular dysfunction, provides an overview of noninvasive and invasive diagnostics, and focuses on the novel continuous thermodilution method. Finally, how these measurements of absolute Q and R could be integrated and how this would affect future clinical care are discussed.

Keywords: ANOCA; absolute coronary blood flow; acetylcholine; adenosine; continuous thermodilution; coronary function test; coronary physiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / physiopathology
  • Coronary Circulation*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Cardiovascular*
  • Humans
  • Microcirculation*
  • Microvessels / physiopathology
  • Thermodilution