According to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of American college of cardiology ,patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) face increased risk of early stent thrombosis in the presence of high thrombus burden with certain pathological traits or suboptimal stenting.

Researchers evaluated 67 stented coronary lesions from 59 patients who presented with ACS and died within 30 days of implantation (between 2004 and 2012).

Early stent thrombosis was identified in 37 lesions from 34 patients (58%), all of whom died of stent-related causes. Of 25 patients without stent thrombosis, cause of death was stent-related in 3 (distal dissection, coronary perforation, and side branch occlusion secondary to stenting). ECG readings at the time of diagnosis revealed STEMI in 16 patients and NSTEMI in 13 patients.

All 33 patients for whom pathological information on the myocardium was available had MI on histologic examination. 

Lesion Characteristics Implicated 

No differences emerged between lesions with (n = 37) or without (n = 30) stent thrombosis in terms of stent location in the coronary tree, duration of the implant, stent type (BMS vs DES or among DES types), number of stents or total stented length, or the underlying pathological findings (eg, plaque rupture, erosion, or calcified nodule).

However, in the stented segment, the maximum index thrombus thickness at the site of greatest thrombus burden was larger and necrotic core prolapse and occlusive thrombus in the side branch were more common in thrombotic lesions compared with patent lesions. Stenting in a false lumen secondary to medial dissection was numerically higher in thrombotic lesions (table 1).

Table 1. Lesion Characteristics: Thrombosis vs Patent

(n = 37 lesions)
(n = 30 lesions)
P Value
Maximum Index Thrombus Thickness, mm 0.22 0.07 0.001
Necrotic Core Prolapse 70% 43% 0.045
Side Branch Occlusion 22% 3% 0.035
False Lumen Stenting 8% 0 0.25

In nonstented segments proximal and distal to the stented segments, severe stenosis (> 75% cross-sectional narrowing), necrotic core prolapse, and medial dissection were more common in thrombotic than patent lesions, but the differences did not reach statistical significance.


Comparison of culprit and nonculprit sections within lesions showed that the extent of necrotic core prolapse, medial tear, and incomplete apposition was higher in sections with thrombus.


In particular, independent predictors of stent thrombosis on multivariate analysis were:

  • Maximum depth of strut penetration (OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.3-4.3; P = 0.006)
  • Percentage of struts with medial tear (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.3-2.4; P = 0.001)
  • Percentage of struts with incomplete apposition (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.4-2.4; P < 0.001)

In addition, plaque rupture was more common in arterial sections with vs without stent thrombosis (OR 2.2; 95% CI 1.5-3.2; P < 0.001).



Careful Technique, Improved Stent Designs May Help


The findings emphasize the potential role of intracoronary imaging in describing the underlying plaque, quantifying the lesion extent, and assessing procedural results in terms of stent apposition.


Improvements in stent design may help reduce stent thrombosis risk.


Finally, the contribution of thrombus burden to the development of stent thrombosis reinforces the importance of potent antiplatelet and anticoagulant strategies



Study Details


Age, sex, indication for PCI, and past medical history were similar between subjects with and without stent thrombosis.




1. Nakano M, Yahagi K, Otsuka F, et al. Causes of early stent thrombosis in patients with acute coronary syndrome: an ex vivohuman autopsy study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;Epub ahead of print.

2. Windecker S, O’Sullivan CJ. Mitigating the risk of early stent thrombosis [editial]. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;Epub ahead of prin

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