Histopathological validation of optical frequency domain imaging to quantify various types of coronary calcifications

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This study evaluated whether optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI) could identify various coronary calcifications and accurately measure calcification thickness in comparison with histopathology.

Methods and results

A total of 902 pathological cross-sections from 44 coronary artery specimens of human cadavers were examined to compare OFDI and histological images. Histological coronary calcification was classified into four different types: (i) superficial dense calcified plates, (ii) deep intimal calcification, (iii) scattered microcalcification, and (iv) calcified nodule. The thickness of calcification was measured when both the leading and trailing edges of calcification were visible on OFDI. Of the 902 histological cross-sections, 158 (18%) had calcification: 105 (66%) were classified as superficial dense calcified plates, 20 (13%) as deep intimal calcifications, 30 (19%) as scattered microcalcifications, and 3 (2%) as calcified nodules. Superficial dense calcified plates appeared as well-delineated heterogeneous signal-poor regions with sharp borders on OFDI. Deep intimal calcifications could not be identified on OFDI. Scattered microcalcification appeared as homogeneous low intensity areas with indiscriminant borders. Calcified nodule, a high-backscattering protruding mass with an irregular surface, also appeared as a low intensity area with a diffuse border. The ROC analysis identified calcium thicknesses <893 µm as cut points for the prediction of measurable calcification (72% sensitivity and 91% specificity, area under the curve = 0.893, P < 0.001).


Our study demonstrated the potential capability of OFDI to characterize various types of coronary calcifications, which may contribute to the understanding of the pathogenesis of coronary atherosclerosis.

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