Since the coronary stent was introduced, the complication rate after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) has been reduced.1 However, lesions with large thrombus burden are still associated with high morbidity and mortality rates after PCI.2 Recently, devices to prevent distal embolization have been introduced and the results in saphenous vein grafts are encouraging.3–9 This case report describes the successful treatment of a lesion with a large thrombus burden in a native coronary artery with an embolization containment device. Case Report. An 84-year-old female who had been admitted due to acute non-Q wave myocardial infarction was transferred to our hospital. Coronary angiography was performed 4 days after the onset of myocardial infarction. It revealed a 99% stenosis with a large thrombus burden in the proximal and mid-right coronary artery (RCA) (Figure 1A). Contralateral collaterals from the left circumflex artery (LCX) to the RCA were observed. There was no significant stenosis in the left anterior descending coronary artery or the LCX. Left ventriculography demonstrated hypokinesis of the inferior wall. The patient was referred for coronary angioplasty. An 8 French (Fr) JR4 guiding catheter (Cordis Corporation, Miami, Florida) was positioned at the RCA ostium. A 0.014´´ PercuSurge GuardWire Plus (Medtronic AVE, Sunnyvale, California) was prepped and advanced into the distal RCA. The GuardWire Plus occlusion balloon was positioned in the distal RCA and inflated up to 4 mm in diameter (Figure 1B). A 2.5 mm Adante balloon catheter (Boston Scientific/Scimed, Inc., Maple Grove, Minnesota) was passed through the lesion and balloon inflations at 6 atmospheres (atm) were performed. A 28 mm ULTRA stent (Guidant Corporation, Temecula, California) that was pre-mounted on a 4.0 mm balloon catheter was advanced to the lesion. Contrast was injected to confirm the appropriate position of the stent (Figure 2), which was then deployed in the proximal RCA using an inflation pressure of 12 atm. An 18 mm ULTRA stent that was pre-mounted on the 4.0 mm balloon catheter was then deployed in the mid-RCA using an inflation pressure of 12 atm. After the balloon catheter was removed, the Export catheter, which is the aspiration catheter of the PercuSurge GuardWire Plus system, was advanced over the GuardWire Plus to the distal occlusion balloon. Suction by aspiration syringe was performed and thrombus-like material was retrieved. The occlusion balloon was then deflated. There was no chest pain or significant change in the electrocardiogram during inflation of the occlusion balloon for 15 minutes. Angiography demonstrated Thrombosis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) grade 3 flow with no evidence of distal embolism or residual thrombus (Figure 1C). A 13 mm TETRA stent that was pre-mounted on the 3.5 mm balloon catheter was deployed in the distal RCA using an inflation pressure of 16 atm. The final angiogram demonstrated a good result (Figure 1D). The patient’s course after the procedure was uncomplicated. There was neither electrocardiographic nor enzymatic evidence of myocardial infarction related to the procedure. Discussion. No reflow phenomenon is frequently observed during PCI in lesions with a large thrombus burden.2 This may be attributed mainly to distal embolization of thrombus in such lesions, although there are other possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, such as microvascular damage and spasm.10,11 Patients with distal embolization and no reflow have significantly higher rates of myocardial infarction and death (approaching 20%) compared to patients without these complications.12,13 In a series of patients who were treated with transluminal extraction catheter atherectomy (Interventional Technologies, Bellevue, Washington), 18.5% of patients with distal embolization died in the hospital.14 Vasodilators have been the primary pharmacological treatment of no reflow.15–17 Intracoronary verapamil, nitroprusside and adenosine have been shown to be effective in the treatment of no reflow. The mechanism of action may be improvement in microvascular circulation and may be unrelated to embolic phenomena. Thus, these agents may not be enough to prevent or relieve no reflow and distal embolization when treating a lesion with a large amount of embolization source, such as large bulky thrombus. Previous studies18,19 demonstrated that thrombolytic agents and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors dissolved coronary thrombus and improved TIMI flow grade. Furthermore, the efficacy of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor as an adjunctive therapy for primary angioplasty was demonstrated.20,21 However, it may not be possible to dissolve all thrombus with thrombolytic agents or glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors in lesions with large thrombus burden. Thus, the risk of no reflow and distal embolization might remain when treating such lesions.20 Covered stents with suitable length and compatible covering have the potential to entrap thrombus, which would otherwise embolize during deployment.22 However, embolization may occur in a lesion with a large thrombus burden while delivering the stent to the lesion through thrombus. The AngioJet Rapid Thrombectomy System (Possis Medical, Minneapolis, Minnesota) uses the Bernoulli effect to aspirate friable pathology such as poorly organized thrombus.23 This device has demonstrable success in extracting thrombus from both diseased vein grafts and native coronary arteries. However, in a pilot study of the AngioJet,24 no reflow was observed in 13% of the lesions while attempting thrombectomy. Recently, devices to trap embolic material have been introduced.3–8 These devices fall into two general types. One is the filter-type device that traps debris during intervention and is then collapsed and withdrawn from the artery with the trapped debris.8 However, in lesions with large thrombus burden, no reflow and distal embolization may occur while delivering the filter-type device through thrombus. The other embolization containment device consists of a distal balloon, which occludes the artery during intervention, and a small catheter for aspiration of debris.3–8 Stein et al.25 demonstrated the concept of balloon occlusion and transluminal aspiration to prevent distal embolization. A balloon catheter was inflated at the segment distal to the lesion in a saphenous vein graft to prevent distal embolization while PCI was performed with another balloon catheter. The particulate debris was aspirated with a Dorros Infusion/Probing Catheter (USCI, Billerica, Massachusetts). The balloon catheter at the distal segment was then deflated. However, this technique does not allow the deployment of stents. The PercuSurge containment system is an advanced system that uses this concept.3–8 The PercuSurge GuardWire Plus is constructed of 0.014´´ nitinol hypotube with a 35 mm radio-opaque, shapeable, steerable tip. Incorporated in the distal wire is a 5.5-mm long elastomeric balloon with a 0.041–0.043´´ crossing profile and available inflated diameters of 3.0–6.0 mm.4 Thus, the low profile of the PercuSurge GuardWire Plus minimizes the risk of distal embolization and no reflow while delivering it through thrombus, although meticulous guidewire manipulation is essential. A detachable inflation adapter accesses the hypotube lumen by displacing a small seal, allowing inflation of the balloon. This system allows stenting while the distal occlusion balloon is inflated. After PCI, an aspiration catheter (Export catheter) with an internal lumen diameter of 0.040´´ is advanced over the PercuSurge GuardWire Plus and allows removal of particulate debris using a 20 ml locking syringe before deflation of the occlusion balloon. Following manual aspiration, the aspiration catheter is removed and the distal occlusive balloon is deflated.4 The efficacy of the PercuSurge containment system for the treatment of diseased saphenous vein grafts has been demonstrated with encouraging results of a decreased incidence of distal embolization.3,4 Carlino et al.3 performed stenting with the PercuSurge GuardWire in 15 degenerated saphenous vein grafts. There were no distal embolizations or major in-hospital complications, including Q-wave and non-Q wave myocardial infarctions. In 10 of 15 patients, macro- or microscopic debris was observed. Webb et al.4 demonstrated no procedural complications except for 3 post-procedure non-Q wave myocardial infarctions (11.1%) in 27 saphenous vein grafts. Particulate material was identified after 21 of 23 procedures suitable for analysis. Recently, the randomized Saphenous vein graft Angioplasty Free of Emboli Randomized (SAFER) trial9 demonstrated a lower in-hospital major adverse cardiac event rate (8.8% versus 17.3%; p
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