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Stenting can convert a stable plaque into a vulnerable plaque . . . True or False ?

Posted Jun 15 2011 12:44pm

An atherosclerotic  plaque is termed  vulnerable when it’s  future behavior is unpredictable .A vulnerable  plaque has a  tendency to get occluded at any time.

Anatomically  a  vulnerable  is  present  , if the lipid core is more , fibrous cap is  thin  and  a  large lipid  core hanging eccentrically. A plaque with high temperature (Hot plaques ,febrile plaques)detected by OCT/Raman spectroscopy or thermography

Note the T cells and macrophages wage a losing battle against a metal monster !

What is the best method to calm down these vulnerable , hot ,inflamed plaques ?

A stent which scaffolds a plaque is believed to stabilse it  and  make it less vulnerable to rupture. This is the most optimistic view on coronary stenting .

Here comes  a pessimistic view !

A metal inside a coronary artery covering is  additional  threat .A metal  is   perennially  thrombogenic  ,especially the drug eluting stents which suppress the normal endothelial  function .

What  is the realistic view  ?

A stent should be used cautiously and judiciously in coronary plaques  with   high risk features  .Here  a  stent  in all probability  converts a vulnerable plaque  into a  relatively stable plaque

When stenting is done indiscriminately( without application of mind )  in stable non flow limiting lesions  stability is replaced with vulnerability.

Is it not curious to know  any angina  in a patient  who  had   PCI  for chronic  stable angina  is labeled  as unstable angina. 

Vulnerable stents

Following are typical  clinical scenarios   where stents could  carry a vulnerability  tag . 

  1. Poorly deployed  stents
  2. Properly deployed (but unnecessarily deployed especially in chronic stable angina )
  3. All Bifurcation stents
  4. Distal left main stents
  5. Stents with plaque prolapse
  6. Finally and most importantly all  drug eluting stents are considered  vulnerable ! (That’s why  our patients has to  live at the mercy of dual platelet blockers , life long.  Of course , there is no life time warranty   that  drugs do their  job properly)

And now . . .  you answer my  question !

Can  stenting convert a stable plaque  into vulnerable plaque ?

  • If  “yes’ is your answer your patients are in safe hands .
  • If  ” No”   is  your  answer ,  you are  fit to become a leading  interventional cardiologist !

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