Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) is one of the major factors limiting long-term survival after heart transplantation (HTX). Typically, concentric vascular thickening and fibrosis with marked intimal proliferation are found in CAV. Most of HTX patients often remain free from symptoms of typical angina. Therefore, surveillance diagnostic exams are often performed. The gold standard of diagnosing CAV is coronary angiography (CAG). However, CAG can often be a less sensitive modality for the detection of diffuse concentric lesions. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is helpful for direct imaging of vessel walls and provides useful information about coronary intimal thickening; however, it is difficult to evaluate plaque morphology in detail. Optimal coherence tomography (OCT), which delivers high resolution of 10 μm, can provide more details on plaque morphology than conventional imaging modalities. Recently, OCT imaging revealed new insight in CAV such as the development of atherosclerotic lesions and complicated coronary lesions. We review the pathogenesis, clinical features, diagnosis of CAV, with a particular focus on diagnostic intravascular imaging modalities.
Part of the book: Heart Transplantation