Aims: In vivo validation of coronary optical coherence tomography (OCT) against histology and the effects of plaque burden (PB) on plaque classification remain unreported. We aimed to investigate this in a porcine model with human-like coronary atherosclerosis.
Methods and results: Five female Yucatan D374Y-PCSK9 transgenic hypercholesterolaemic minipigs were implanted with a coronary shear-modifying stent to induce advanced atherosclerosis. OCT frames (n=201) were obtained 34 weeks after implantation. Coronary arteries were perfusion-fixed, serially sectioned and co-registered with OCT using a validated algorithm. Lesions were adjudicated using the Virmani classification and PB assessed from histology. OCT had a high sensitivity, but modest specificity (92.9% and 74.6%), for identifying fibrous cap atheroma (FCA). The reduced specificity for OCT was due to misclassification of plaques with histologically defined pathological intimal thickening (PIT) as FCA (46.1% of the frames with histological PIT were misclassified). PIT lesions misclassified as FCA by OCT had a statistically higher PB than in other OCT frames (median 32.0% versus 13.4%; p<0.0001). Misclassification of PIT lesions by OCT occurred when PB exceeded approximately 20%.
Conclusions: Compared with histology, in vivo OCT classification of FCA had high sensitivity but reduced specificity due to misclassification of PITs with high PB.