Ten autopsy hearts (n=15 arterial segments) were scanned with the multimodality NIRS-IVUS catheter (TVC Imaging System, Infraredx, Inc.) to identify lipid core plaques (LCPs). Skilled readers made predictions of cap thickness over regions of chemogram LCP, using NIRS-IVUS. Artery segments were perfusion fixed and cut into 2 mm serial blocks. Thin sections stained with Movat’s pentachrome were analyzed for cap thickness at LCP regions. Block level predictions were compared to histology, as classified by a blinded pathologist.
Within 15 arterial segments, 117 chemogram blocks were found by NIRS to contain LCP. Utilizing NIRSIVUS, chemogram blocks were divided into 4 categories: thin capped fibroatheromas (TCFA), thick capped fibroatheromas (ThCFA), pathological intimal thickening (PIT)/lipid pool (no defined cap), and calcified/unable to determine cap thickness. Sensitivities/specificities for thin cap fibroatheromas, thick cap fibroatheromas, and PIT/lipid pools were 0.54/0.99, 0.68/0.88, and 0.80/0.97, respectively. The overall accuracy rate was 70.1% (including 22 blocks unable to predict, p = 0.075). In the absence of calcium, NIRS-IVUS imaging provided predictions of cap thickness over LCP with moderate accuracy. The ability of this multimodality imaging method to identify vulnerable coronary plaques requires further assessment in both larger autopsy studies, and clinical studies in patients undergoing NIRS-IVUS imaging.