Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is a catheter-based coronary imaging technique. It utilises the emission & subsequent detection of reflected high frequency (30–60 MHz) sound waves to create high resolution, cross-sectional images of the coronary artery. IVUS has been the cornerstone of intracoronary imaging for more than two decades. When compared to the invasive coronary angiogram which studies only the silhouette of the contrast-filled artery lumen, IVUS also crucially images the vessel wall. Because of this capability, IVUS has greatly facilitated understanding of the coronary atherosclerosis process. Such insights from IVUS reveal how commonly and extensively plain angiography underestimates the true extent of coronary plaque, the characteristics of plaques prone to rupture and cause acute coronary syndromes (lipid rich, thin cap atheroma), and a realisation of the widespread occurrence of vessel remodelling in response to atherosclerosis. Similarly, IVUS has historically provided salutary mechanistic insights that have guided many of the incremental advances in the techniques of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Examples include mechanisms of in-stent restenosis, and the importance of high-pressure post-dilatation of stents to ensure adequate stent apposition and thereby reduce the occurrence of stent thrombosis. IVUS also greatly facilitates the choice of correct diameter and length of stent to implant. Overall, a compelling body of evidence indicates that use of intravascular ultrasound in PCI helps to achieve optimal technical results and to mitigate the risk of adverse cardiac events. In this review, the role of intravascular ultrasound as an adjunct to PCI in complex coronary lesions is explored. The complex coronary situations discussed are the left main stem, ostial stenoses, bifurcation stenoses, thrombotic lesions, the chronically occluded coronary artery, and calcified coronary artery disease. By thorough review of the available evidence, we establish that the advantages of IVUS guidance are particularly evident in each of these complex CAD subsets. In particular, some consider the use of IVUS to be almost mandatory in left main PCI. A comparison with other intracoronary imaging techniques is also explored.
- Chronic total occlusion
- Complex coronary lesions
- Coronary intervention
- Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)
- Left main stem