Yellow plaques seen during coronary angioscopy are thought to be the surrogates for superficial intimal lipids in coronary plaque. Given diffuse and heterogeneous nature of atherosclerosis, yellow plaques in coronaries may be seen as several yellow spots on diffuse coronary plaque. We examined the topographic association of yellow plaques with coronary plaque. In 40 non-severely stenotic ex-vivo coronary segments (average length: 52.2 ± 3.1 mm), yellow plaques were examined by angioscopy with quantitative colorimetry. The segments were cut perpendicular to the long axis of the vessel at 2 mm intervals, and 1045 slides with 5 μm thick tissue for whole segments were prepared. To construct the plaque surface, each tissue slice was considered to be representative of the adjacent 2 mm. The circumference of the lumen and the lumen border of plaque were measured in each slide, and the plaque surface region was constructed. Coronary plaque was in 37 (93%) of 40 segments, and consisted of a single mass [39.9 ± 3.9 (0-100) mm, 311.3 ± 47.4 (0.0-1336.2) mm2]. In 30 (75%) segments, multiple (2-9) yellow plaques were detected on a mass of coronary plaque. The number of yellow plaques correlated positively with coronary plaque surface area (r = 0.77, P < 0.0001). Yellow plaques in coronaries detected by angioscopy with quantitative colorimetry, some of them are associated with lipid cores underneath thin fibrous caps, may be used to assess the extent of coronary plaque. Further research using angioscopy could be of value to study the association of high-risk coronaries with acute coronary syndromes.
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