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A brief lecture on tandem coronary lesions!

Posted Feb 23 2011 12:19pm

Coronary artery lesions can be classified by many types . The popular ones are by Ambrose and Ellis  .They are adopted by ACC and SCAI  .While various  terms  are  used to   describe a lesion. (diffuse, discreet , eccentric , long , tubular  etc) A tandem lesion is the one which has special significance , but is not well discussed in the literature .

A tandem lesion is  diagnosed when  two lesions  closely abut  each other one behind the other  with an  intervening normal segment. (Like the bullets loaded in a  tandem fashion  in a  gun )

Generally there will be at least  few millimeters of normal intervening  coronary segment.This is  referred to  as  connecting segment.

Clinical importance of tandem lesion

Tandem lesions  carries  the  same significance as any other lesion.The primary aim is to tackle the two lesions with a single stent.In the strict sense one wold require an IVUS (Intra vascular  ultra sound ) to confirm the normality of the connecting segment. Tandem lesion is  a  marker  of diffuse atherosclerosis  and  the connecting segments often   show ectatic changes.

Illusions of  tandem lesion.

Many  times ,  spiral folds  from a single  atherosclerotic   lesion mimics  a double lesion .This need to be differentiated from true tandem lesion.

What is the hemodynamic significance of  tandem lesions ?

Rules of hemodynamics  would  dictate ,  in a linear and laminar flow  model across a tube ,   immediately after an obstruction there will be a significant  drop in resistance.

This  forms the fundamental   phenomenon  within the coronary artery  . This explains the biggest mystery in cardiology . . .  How  the  TIMI flow is  maintained till 90 % of the  lumen is narrowed. This  also  explains the concept of flow limiting lesion .(Why  a coronary lesion do not obstruct the flow  till late stages  ?)

Does this rule on  hemodynamics  apply in tandem lesions ?

When a lesion is followed  by a lesion with little normal segment in between what happens ?

The blood gets a double jolt every time it traverses a tandem lesion. There  may not be sufficient time and anatomy for the mandatory pressure drop to occur. So for a  given degree of obstruction ,  tandem lesions  is likely to be   more thermodynamically significant than a single lesion.

Pressure recovery after  an obstruction is also incomplete , as the forward head of blood column encounters another hurdle even before it recovers from the initial turbulence.

Which lesion is more important   in tandem proximal  or  distal  ?

The distal lesion determines the thermodynamics of proximal lesion while the distal lesion as  such is  less influenced by proximal.

Long lesion vs tandem lesions

Some times it may appear ,  it is better to have a long lesion than  a two lesion  in tandem. This is because the stent will approximate more evenly .Further there is less likely hood of in -stent restenosis in long lesions as the   edge effect can occur  right in the middle of  the stent in tandem lesions .

Now it is increasingly realised, many of the sub acute thrombosis  are due to po0r stent approximation in tandem lesions or long lesion.

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