Focal compensatory enlargement of human arteries in response to progressive atherosclerosis. In vivo documentation using intravascular ultrasound.
BACKGROUND Previous postmortem studies have demonstrated compensatory enlargement of atherosclerotic arteries in animal models and patients. Conclusions regarding these changes were drawn based on a comparison of the dimensions of diseased arteries in one group of subjects with the dimensions of normal arteries in another group. This method admits potential confounding variables, such as demographics and other disease states, which might also have an impact on arterial size.
METHODS AND RESULTS Using intravascular ultrasound, we studied a total of 62 paired, adjacent normal and diseased sites in the superficial femoral arteries of 20 patients undergoing peripheral vascular interventions. Morphological assessment was performed using a computer-based image analysis system. Measurements were made of the cross-sectional area of the arterial lumen, the atherosclerotic plaque, and the outer border of the artery. These dimensions were then compared to determine the effects of progressive atherosclerosis on arterial morphology. Luminal cross-sectional area decreased from 21.1 +/- 2.2 mm2 in normal segments to 16.7 +/- 0.8 mm2 (P = .0001) in adjacent atherosclerotic segments. Similarly, minimal luminal diameter decreased from 5.7 +/- 0.2 to 5.0 +/- 0.1 mm2, and maximal luminal diameter decreased from 6.2 +/- 0.2 to 5.7 +/- 0.2 mm2. At these same sites, total arterial area was 32.9 +/- 1.6 and 37.9 +/- 1.9 mm2 (P = .0001) in normal and diseased segments, respectively. Minimal and maximal arterial diameters demonstrated similar increases (7.3 +/- 0.2 to 7.7 +/- 0.2 mm2 [P = .0015] and 7.6 +/- 0.2 to 8.3 +/- 0.2 mm2 [P = .0001], respectively). Regression analysis disclosed correlation of the cross-sectional area of plaque to the total arterial area (R = .70, P = .0001).
CONCLUSIONS Human arteries enlarge in response to progressive atherosclerosis. This compensatory mechanism results in an increase in arterial size that is proportionate to the cross-sectional area of plaque that has accumulated in the vessel. Intravascular ultrasound demonstrates that this process is focal compensatory enlargement at discrete sites of atherosclerotic narrowing immediately adjacent to more normal areas in which arterial size is smaller.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association