Objectives: This study aimed to 1) compare in vitro intravascular ultrasound images of human pulmonary arteries with corresponding histologic sections, and 2) correlate the relation between intravascular ultrasound findings and Heath-Edwards pathologic grade of pulmonary vascular changes.
Background: The pathologic assessment of the pulmonary vascular bed is essential for diagnosis and management of congenital heart disease with pulmonary hypertension.
Methods: We evaluated and compared intravascular ultrasound images with histologic findings at identical sites in 40 pulmonary artery segments from 17 autopsy studies: group 1 = 7 patients with pulmonary hypertension (Heath-Edwards grade I to V, 20 segments); group 2 = 10 patients without cardiopulmonary disease (20 segments).
Results: In group 2, the pulmonary artery wall echo consisted of a single layer. In group 1, 1) all segments of pulmonary arteries from patients with pulmonary hypertension showed a three-layered appearance; 2) in patients with mild pulmonary hypertension (Heath-Edwards grades I and II), intravascular ultrasound demonstrated increased thickness of the echoluscent zone due to medial hypertrophy with no intimal reaction; 3) patients with severe pulmonary hypertension (Health-Edwards grade III or higher) had intravascular ultrasound findings of increased medial thickness and a bright inner layer from intimal hyperplasia; 4) percent wall thickness derived from intravascular ultrasound showed a significant correlation with that determined by histologic examination (r = 0.89, p = 0.0001, n = 20).
Conclusions: Changes observed with intravascular ultrasound imaging correlate well with histopathologic grade. Thus, intravascular ultrasound may have significant utility in the evaluation of pulmonary vascular morphology in patients with pulmonary hypertension.