OBJECTIVES: Intravascular ultrasound derived virtual histology (VH IVUS) is used increasingly in clinical research to assess composition and vulnerability of coronary atherosclerotic lesions. However, the ability of VH IVUS to quantify individual plaque components, in particular the size of the destabilizing necrotic core, has never been validated. We tested for correlation between VH IVUS necrotic core size and necrotic core size by histology in porcine coronary arteries with human-like coronary disease.
METHODS: In adult atherosclerosis-prone minipigs, 18 advanced coronary lesions were assessed by VH IVUS in vivo followed by postmortem microscopic examination (histology).
RESULTS: We found no correlation between the size of the necrotic core determined by VH IVUS and histology. VH IVUS displayed necrotic cores in lesions lacking cores by histology.
CONCLUSIONS: We found no correlation between necrotic core size determined by VH IVUS and real histology, questioning the ability of VH IVUS to detect rupture-prone plaques, so-called thin-cap fibroatheromas.