Relationship between left main coronary artery plaque burden and nonleft main coronary atherosclerosis: results from the PROSPECT study

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Whether the severity of left main coronary artery (LMCA) disease reflects LMCA and overall coronary atherosclerotic burden is not known. We aimed to assess nonculprit LMCA disease characteristics and the relationship with atherosclerosis in the rest of the coronary arteries as well as patient outcomes.

Patients and methods

In the PROSPECT study, 697 patients with acute coronary syndromes underwent three-vessel gray-scale and radiofrequency intravascular ultrasound after percutaneous coronary intervention.


Overall, 552 patients with adequate LMCA imaging were compared according to LMCA plaque burden. The tertile with the highest plaque burden in the LMCA had the smallest LMCA minimum lumen area (17.4, 14.2, 10.5, lowest through highest tertiles, respectively, P<0.0001) and the greatest percent necrotic core volume (2.8, 5.6, 9.5%, lowest through highest tertiles, respectively, P<0.0001). Furthermore, the tertile with the highest plaque burden was also significantly associated with the highest overall non-LMCA percent atheroma volume within the major epicardial arteries (48.3, 49.2, 50.8%, lowest through highest tertiles, respectively, P<0.0001). After adjusting for patient background, the LMCA plaque burden was independently associated with non-LMCA percent atheroma volume (P=0.003). Of the three PROSPECT predictors of future nonculprit major adverse cardiac events (MACE) (minimum lumen area≤4 mm2, plaque burden≥70%, and virtual histology thin-cap fibroatheroma), the tertile with the highest LMCA plaque burden had the highest number of patients with at least one of three PROSPECT predictors (P=0.03). In multivariable model, though total atheroma volume (per 1%) was an independent predictor of all MACE [hazard ratio (95% confidence interval)=1.06 (1.01–1.11), P=0.02] and strong trend for non-culprit-related MACE [hazard ratio (95% confidence interval)=1.06 (1.00–1.13), P=0.06], plaque burden at LMCA was not (all MACE, P=0.90, non-culprit-related MACE, P=0.85).


The severity of atherosclerosis in LMCA predicted the overall atherosclerotic plaque burden as well as the presence of high-risk plaques in the three major epicardial coronary arteries.

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