Background: Positive near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) signals might be encountered in areas without evident artery wall thickening, being typically perceived as artefacts.
Aims: We aimed to evaluate the utility of NIRS to identify artery wall regions associated with an increase in wall thickness (WT) as assessed by serial IVUS and optical coherence tomography (OCT).
Methods: In this prospective, single-centre study, patients presenting with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) underwent NIRS-IVUS and OCT assessment of a non-culprit artery at baseline and 12-month follow-up. For each vessel, 1.5 mm segments were identified, matched and divided into 45 sectors. The relationship between the change in IVUS-based WT (DWT), and the presence of NIRS-positive signals and OCT-detected lipid, was evaluated using linear mixed models.
Results: A total of 37 patients (38 vessels, 6,936 matched sectors) were analysed at baseline and 12 months. A total of 140/406 (34.5%) NIRS (+) sectors and 513/1,575 (32.6%) OCT-lipid (+) sectors were found to be located in thin (WT<0.5 mm) wall sectors. In the thin wall sectors, an increase in WT was significantly more pronounced in NIRS (+) vs NIRS (−) sectors (0.11 mm vs 0.06 mm, p<0.001). In the thick wall sectors, there was a decrease in WT observed that was less pronounced in the NIRS (+) versus NIRS (−) sectors (-0.08 mm vs −0.09 mm, p<0.001). Thin wall NIRS (+) OCT-lipid (+) sectors showed significant wall thickening (DWT=0.13 mm).
Conclusions: NIRS-positive signals in otherwise non-diseased arterial walls as assessed by IVUS could identify vessel wall regions prone to WT increase over 12-month follow-up. Our observations suggest that NIRS-positive signals in areas without evident wall thickening by IVUS should no longer be viewed as benign or imaging artefact.