Archive for the ‘Cardiology -unresolved questions’ Category

Bifurcation  angioplasty is a  newly conquered(Or not yet !)  target  for Interventional cardiologists.We have come a long way  in planning  interventions  for left main  with state of the art  hardware, expertise and  image assistance .However , every  classification , approach, strategy  for BFL talks about tackling the main and  side branches meticulously.

Still . . . one question  is not answered clearly is  . . .

A mini MCQ.

Answer: Open for contribution.

My inference

*It all depends upon the Indication and Individual arterial ischemic burden. In ACS, if  LAD territory is infarcted and beyond 24 hours.LAD becomes a  side kick to the vital LCX which supplies  the remaining life sustaining myocardium which includes the critical basal segments.

Final message 

Since , the risks involved in the interventions of  left main and its bifurcation is inherently linked  with , what exactly we mean (and do ! ) to the side branch .Its mandatory we spare few intellectual moments before our hands invade the coronary battle zone.

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Critical multivessel CAD is commonly confronted by cardiologists .These patients either receive multivessel stenting, CABG, with or without optimal medical management(OMT) !

CABG is always done with intention of  complete revasularisation  for all significant lesions. Comprehensive  multivessel PCI though feasible is not practiced widely.Considering the diffuse nature of CAD no treatment is complete except probably intensive medical management.

As of now , addressing only one (or two ) critical lesions in a triple vessel disease by PCI though appear attractive and logical is considered unscientific.Guidelines are not clear in answering the issue.


In a triple vessel disease with a critical LAD lesion,  

Shall we do PCI for LAD and medical management for lesions in RCA or LCX  ?

How about this coronary wisdom  “While medical therapy can take care of less tighter lesions , only critical lesions need catheter based Intervention”

In fact, in STEMI setting we do apply this logic of  targeting one lesion (IRA) at a time. Why not in chronic coronary setting ? There are significant  pros and cons for this approach.While, most 0f us will go with the logical herd,an unique  paper by Mineok  asks us to think again(American Heart Journal, 2016-09-01, 157-165)

How do you define the completeness of revascularization? Is it not emprical ?

We know medical management has well documented advantages in chronic CAD. while multivessel stenting has its own hazards.Hence limiting the time spent within the coronary artery and reducing total stent length should be one of our important goals.

A mini quiz  . . .

How often you have left a fairly significant lesion (attending only the critical lesions )  in your practice ?

What do you think will happen to those non critical lesions  in the long run  ?

Do you believe earnestly drugs can take care of these lesions ?

Forget the science . Whats your experience and  gut feeling ? 

Do you agree , even surgeons do not always do a complete revascularisation either intentionally or for technical reasons ?

Finally ,why we are still  hesitant to call intensive medical therapy as a  “Revascularisation  equivalent”  inspite of valid proof for improved functional class, symptom relief , regression of atherosclerois , collateral preservation and improved microcirculaion.

Final message 

I would say , the science of coronary revascularisation in chronic CAD is stranded at a confused cross road even after three decades of aggressively grown interventional cardiology .At any given point of time medical  management can give a tough fight to catheter  based intervention in most stable IHD.

Hybrid therapy doesn’t always mean combination of PCI and CABG. Judicious mix of PCI and medical therapy is also  a hybrid modality that can bring CAD burden effectively in a meaningful fashion with less metal load.   If you can convert a critical triple vessel disease to non critical DVD or SVD with a single stent it should be welcomed without prejudice. 

With a section of cardiac scientists are in hot pursuit for a completely  bi0reabsorbable stents , let us adopt this “Minimalistic PCI approach” in multivessel CAD, till the time  we reach the “dream the end point” of modern coronary care , ie to  get rid of stent altogether by biological cure for atherosclerosis.


1.Mineok chang, Jung MinAhn, Nayoung  complete versus incomplete revascularization in patients with multivessel coronary artery disease treated with drug-eluting stents Kim,American Heart Journal, 2016-09-01, 157-165,

 2.Tamburino C, Angiolillo DJ, Capranzano P, et al: Complete versus incomplete revascularization in patients with multivessel disease undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention with drug-eluting stents. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv 2008; 72: pp. 448-456

3.Wu C, Dyer AM, King SB, et al: Impact of incomplete revascularization on long-term mortality after coronary stenting. Circ Cardiovasc Interv 2011; 4: pp. 413-421

4.Gao Z, Xu B, Yang YJ, et al: Long-term outcomes of complete versus incomplete revascularization after drug-eluting stent implantation in patients with multivessel coronary disease. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv 2013; 82: pp. 343-349

5.Ong ATL,Serruys PW. Complete revascularization: coronary artery bypass graft surgery versus percutaneous coronary intervention. Circulation. 2006; 114: 249255

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Less than a century ago an easy chair  was enough to manage this most important medical emergency of mankind. Of course, at that time mortality of STEMI was estimated to be around 30%.We have since pushed the in-hospital death rate down to less than 10 %  and its around 5-8% currently.(*The lifeless chairs were able to save 70 lives is a different story!)

Heparin , thrombolytic agents, critical coronary care has helped us to achieve this , of course It must be admitted primary PCI also played a small role (at best 1 % ) in our fight against this number one killer.

Now, why not combine  both lysis and PCI ?

The concept of PIA (Pharmaco Invasive approach) came into vogue  primarily for two reasons.

1.If thrombolysis and  pPCI are powerful strategies by individual merits why not combine both and achieve double the benefit ?

2. Since pPCI is going to be a logistical nightmare in most points of care and we can’t afford to lose time . So, let us lyse first and consider PCI later !

Unfortunately medical science is not math .One plus one in medicine is rarely two !

Though , it looks attractive , Pharmaco invasive approach  has its own troubles.Fortunately , most of them are man-made, few are beyond our knowledge though.

Following general rules  may help us

  • STEMI  should ideally managed by early thrombolysis (or PCI) in all deserving patients.
  • Don’t wait for PCI if you think , there will be delay or reduced expertise and poor track record of the center in this modality.
  • Pharmaco invasive  therapy is not a default in all STEMI .Do good quality , monitored  lysis , (Not necessarily new generation thrombolytic .(I prefer one hour sustained thrombolytic regimen , not the hit or miss bolus) .As a learned cardiologist we need to assess individual patients according to the type and risk of MI.Its not wise to blindly follow the guidelines ,because these guidelines , though based on evidence never answers a query in a single patient perspective !

The key “branch points”  in decision making  after lysis

  • Invasive strategy  should begin within one hour if the patient has failed  thrombolysis and has developed any mechanical issues.( Mind you, LVF requires good medical stabilization .Rushing  such patients to cath lab without application of mind can be disastrous )
  • If the Initial  lysis is excellent and the patient is asymptomatic  one need not proceed with invasive limb at all.(A significant chunk of apparently failed lysis by ECG are asymptomatic and comfortable , these are patients require delicate assessment regarding further intervention. )
  • If the MI is large and the clinical  stability is “not confirmed” one may  proceed urgently within 24 h.
  • In any case there is no role for invasive approach after 24 hours* Unless fresh ischemia  suspected to come from IRA or  non IRA.
  • Having  said that, there are many centers that do a diagnostic  angiogram alone just prior to discharge  (48-72h) for risk stratification and then take a genuine call for a possible PCI or  CABG. In my opinion it appears a sensible strategy , though a non invasive stress  test pre/post discharge can even avoid that  coronary angiogram !

One issue with Rescue PIA

Though by current definition  PIA is to be done  3-24 hours , don’t wait for the 4th hour if you have recognized a failed thrombolysis earlier than three hours.( Ofcourse , as the gap between P and I gets too narrowed it may  carry some adverse  effects witnessed in routine facilitated PCI -Refer FINESSE study ) Similarly,there need not be a blanket ban on PCI beyond 24 hours if residual ischemia is active.

Final message

PIA is a dynamic  coronary  re -perfusion strategy . Nothing is fixed in science. . The optimal gap between Pharmaco and invasive strategy  can be anywhere between  1 hour to “Infinitely deferred” depending upon individual risk perception and wisdom of the treating cardiologist.





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Scientific cardiology has forced us to believe ACS management must be catheter based and all others are inferior  and  those who pursue the later , carry a risk of  being labelled as unethical in near future. However ,experienced cardiologists will know  where the truth lies.

Now,in the interventional cardiology board rooms  there is a big  debate going on regarding the value of early total revascualrisation in STEMI with multivessel CAD.Suddenly , every lesion looks suspect ( Ex,current or future culprit ! ) and all stentable lesion are stented  either in an emergency or semi emergency fashion (The new age post PCI dialogue goes something like this “I have tackled one culprit , other one seems to hide in LAD ,  we will arrest it  next 48 hours or so* ? ( This is the concept of  deferred or staged  non-IRA stenting )

*Ironically it brings   one more dubious therapeutic time window in ACS !

ptca ira non ira multivesssel pci

The recent  studies like  PRAMI, PRIMULTY ,CvLPRIT are trying to find out an answer to this issue  and suggest acute multivessel PCI may be  good strategy. Some of them advocate a FFR guided non IRA intervention , knowing fully well micro-circulatory bed is completely altered by the index acute thrombotic event.( Mind you , for FFR,  we need to induce maximum hyperemia with Adenosine in a highly varying local autonomic milleu within the thrombus clogged capillary network)

Final message ( Intentionally biased !)

Till we learn or unlearn  it is vital to go with conventional wisdom.Don’t pursue a random hunt for coronary culprits in acute phase of  STEMI.Many of them are innocents and likely to suffer in cross fire.Tender coronary arteries need some rest,peace and time to heal thyself  . Just keep away , they will definitely say big  thanks with folded hands !


1.Gershlick AH, Khan J, Kelly DJ, et al. Randomized Trial of Complete Versus Lesion-Only Revascularization in Patients Undergoing Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention for STEMI and Multivessel Disease: The CvLPRIT Trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(10):963-972.

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One of my fellows gave a discharge summary  for a 62 year old patient with stable diabetic  CAD  who had Triple vessel disease with a final advice reading as CABG / PCI/or OMT .

There was a near fury over his angiogram report in the cath meet. How can be  eligible for all the three Intervention at the same time ?.(PCI -Percutaneous coroanry Inervention ,CABG-Coroanry artery by-pass graft, OMT-Optimal medical therapy )

The lesion in question was , Triple vessel disease(Non critical LAD) and significant LCX and again a non critical RCA .Syntax was less than 22 for sure , however the patient  had class 2 angina (now reducing ) .When asked to explain  , the fellow  argued since the patient  is symptomatic , has DM with TVD  he is eligible for CABG , since  LCX lesion was discrete and PCI was distinctly possible , of course as all three  lesions would be  eligible for OMT on any given day  ! he inferred .

How can  a cardiologist be so casual and non-commital in an important medical decision where a life of a heart is at stake.There was a unanimous condemnation about the report. As a consultant he has to be specific , one can’t leave the decision to  your patient’s whims  . . . rather it’s our scientific whims  that should prevail  !



The curiosity continued and looked amusing for many. I was the only one supporting  his argument ! After all , he is being frank and understood the futility of  applying  evolving knowledge base in critical decision making. But, I  asked him to grade the choices .In my opinion  OMT should be the first choice if it can be administered , but reality tells me  true OMT is rare as a modality  at-least in  this  part of world . However every one should insist for it.

Apart from poor  compliance for OMT , pressure  mounts for a procedure from peers and non peers . I am  sure  many  patients  will end up with an  invasive modality sooner or later  backed by a  second or  third opinion  driven by that elusive googled intellect !

Final message

When clinical decision making is debatable with available knowledge (Especially with futile and evolving knowledge base !) , please include your patient into the debate and you may even consider giving him the veto power.If Hippocrates is alive today , I am sure he will argue for medical  knowledge and ignorance should be equally shared with their  patients.

Counter thoughts

Don’t give the choice to your patient  . . . that would mean you lack  clarity, wisdom and confidence !

No, I don’t agree , I know there are  some  patients who are  well informed , rational , more focused than even a professional  !



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Wall motion defect , in patients after CABG is fairly common.These  defects are difficult  to interpret  as the mechanisms can be multiple.Though the commonest wall motion defect appears to  involve the interventricular septum. it can occur anywhere in antero-lateral zone.

The mechanism attributed is  the effect of pericardiotomy , which surgeons as we understand leave it open after grafting  .This can cause lack of localised ventricular interdependence and results in a a brisk septal movement (bounce )It is an indirect effect .

post cabg wall motion defect

Note the, wall motion defects are confined to the exposed areas of the heart during cardiac surgery .In short axis echocardiography it correlates anywhere between 9 to 3 O clock position. Though interventricular septum is not covered by pericardium in the true sense , there is a indirect bounce effect over IVS due to interference with anterior ventricular interdependence .

More commonly a direct wall motion defect in the 12 to 3 O clock position in short axis is seen .This can closely mimic true wall motion defect as pericardial adhesions can tether these segments. Careful observation is warranted.Myocardial thickening is the key differentiating feature.

What is the physiological impact of these wall motion defects ?

It is generally considered benign (It is !) .Though in echo it looks awkward and suggest desynchrony. The real issue is , it can  mislead the echocardiographer to errors in calculation of that universally  sacred parameter called EF %

Importance of  knowing pre existing wall motion defect.

This has to be reviewed with old reports as it can wrongly create a new wall motion defect de-crediting the surgeons.

New pathological wall motion defect.

Of course it can happen due to peri-operative ischemic insult or infarct . However , It need to emphasised transient wall motion defects are common post CABG due to apparent hypoxia.This seems to be more pronounced with on pump surgeries than off pump .(Expected though) In my opinion, 2-4 weeks cooling off period is required before  a meaningful assessment of  wall motion post CABG.

Late pericardial reactions and localised constrictive features has been reported.

Disappearance of wall motion defect : How  common ?

Any disappearance of WMA is welcome . It happens rarely though . Some of the post ACS population (Both STEMI and UA/NSTEMI) can experience this ,  as they could harbor  zones of myocardial segments afflicted by  ischemic stunning rather than true  necrosis , that might  disappear.


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What are the determinants of  dissecting  path   in Aortic dissection ?


Aortic dissection stanford002

Aortic dissection is  taught to us as a dramatic cardiac emergency where the blood  enters one of the planes of aortic wall and travels  in a random way . The wrong way blood instead of flowing within the lumen invades the vessel wall .(Vascular Tsunami ?) It may (or may not) leave the aorta at a distance resulting in various combinations of true and false lumen. Much like a tsumani  its also triggered by an energy releasing  blood pressure spikes hitting on the weakened  aortic wall rupturing the Intima. While acute dissection are often dramatic chronic dissection can be more subtle clinically.

Apart from the site of entry , blood pressure , condition of aortic vessel wall , there seems to be an invisible force that direct the dissecting tract.How it spares or compromises the arch vessels in selected few , as it travels down remain a mystery . If we can predict and track the plane of dissection by any means with computational  hemodynamic models , that will help us plan strategies. Beta blockers are used to reduce the shearing pressure , and emergency surgery is required in many type A dissections.


aortic dissection animation stanford a b classification 002

Do we see a “mini” Interventional opportunity here  ? To arrest or direct the dissecting tracts  into less benign zone. Shall we deploy an emergency  metal ring barrier  just proximal to aortic arch in Type A or  just above renal arteries in type B to prevent vital organ compromise ? This procedure can  be done fast , instead  planning a  elaborate endovascular intervention which is logistically difficult in  arch vessel dissection .This could also act as a bridge to definitive surgery. (Can we compare this with  bush fire fighting which are tamed by c0ntroled artificial fire lines and thus  avoiding spread to residential areas ! )

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