Intimal thickening at coronary bifurcations in pediatric heart transplant recipients

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Heart transplant recipients are at increased risk for atherosclerosis and cardiac allograft vasculopathy, both initially presenting as intimal thickening. We aimed to determine the presence, extent, and anatomical characteristics of intimal thickness at coronary bifurcations in children using OCT. We measured the intimal thickness of coronary arteries in pediatric transplant recipients using OCT during routine cardiac catheterization. Intimal thickening was defined as (i) a percent change in contralateral intimal thickness greater than 50% when comparing the thickness at the bifurcation to the baseline thickness, and (ii) greater than 0.1 mm. We evaluated 153 unique coronary bifurcations in 31 children (58% boys, median 12.7 years). Intimal thickening was almost exclusively observed in the left coronary system (22 of 67 bifurcations) and rare in the right coronary system (2 of 86 bifurcations; P < .001). There was a positive association between the relative size of the side branch and contralateral intimal thickening at coronary bifurcations (P = .009). Intimal thickening at coronary bifurcations is already present in the left coronary system in many pediatric transplant recipients. The correlation between intimal thickening and side branch size suggests that low shear stress and oscillating shear stress may have an important role in the development of intimal thickening at coronary bifurcations.

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