Potential of an Approach Based on the Identification and Treatment of Vulnerable Coronary Plaques

Francesco Prati, Eloisa Arbustini, Fernando Alfonso

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this viewpoint paper, the authors are tackling criticism to the limits of invasive imaging modalities for identification and treatment of vulnerable plaques. They believe in the clinical usefulness of invasive imaging modalities for identification of vulnerable plaques, and are suggesting an explanation for the suboptimal results of past studies, that failed to demonstrate a correlation between interventional treatment of vulnerable plaques, and reduction of hard clinical endpoints. Vulnerability studies have been based, so far, on the detection and measurement of plaques lipid content, because of its ease. However, the search for lipid “lakes” as a single common causal feature of acute coronary syndromes does not seem sufficient to identify patients at risk of adverse events. New imaging studies provided the rationale for improving clinical outcomes, adopting a more comprehensive assessment of target plaque morphology. There is little rationale in pursuing a functional assessment of coronary lesions to predict myocardial infarction. Recent studies are further confirming this hypothesis, suggesting that the clinical benefit of the fractional flow reserve-guided strategy is simply due to a significant reduction in the rate of repeated revascularizations, with no significant differences in the incidence of hard endpoints. There is a need to develop new randomized studies, requiring a feasible number of patients, to test the superiority of an approach based on vulnerable plaque sealing and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-473
Number of pages6
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Interventions
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 22 2021


  • fractional flow reserve
  • percutaneous coronary intervention
  • vulnerable plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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