Thermal Heterogeneity Within Human Atherosclerotic Coronary Arteries Detected In Vivo
A New Method of Detection by Application of a Special Thermography Catheter
Background—Activated macrophages play an important role in the pathogenesis of acute ischemic syndromes. It has been postulated that detection of heat released by activated inflammatory cells of atherosclerotic plaques may predict plaque rupture and thrombosis. Previous ex vivo studies have shown that there is thermal heterogeneity in human carotid atherosclerotic plaques.
Methods and Results—To measure the temperature of human arteries in vivo, we developed a catheter-based technique. Ninety patients (45 with normal coronary arteries, 15 with stable angina [SA], 15 with unstable angina [UA], and 15 with acute myocardial infarction [AMI]) were studied. The thermistor of the thermography catheter has a temperature accuracy of 0.05°C, a time constant of 300 ms, and a spatial resolution of 0.5 mm. Temperature was constant within the arteries of the control subjects, whereas most atherosclerotic plaques showed higher temperature compared with healthy vessel wall. Temperature differences between atherosclerotic plaque and healthy vessel wall increased progressively from SA to AMI patients (difference of plaque temperature from background temperature, 0.106±0.110°C in SA, 0.683±0.347°C in UA, and 1.472±0.691°C in AMI). Heterogeneity within the plaque was shown in 20%, 40%, and 67% of the patients with SA, UA, and AMI, respectively, whereas no heterogeneity was shown in the control subjects.
Conclusions—Thermal heterogeneity within human atherosclerotic coronary arteries was shown in vivo by use of a special thermography catheter. This heterogeneity is larger in UA and AMI, suggesting that it may be related to the pathogenesis.
- Received July 28, 1998.
- Revision received January 5, 1999.
- Accepted January 25, 1999.
- Copyright © 1999 by American Heart Association