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ISSN: 1734-9338
Advances in Interventional Cardiology/Postępy w Kardiologii Interwencyjnej
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vol. 15
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Aspiration thrombectomy and histopathologic examination of thrombus for early identification of embolic myocardial infarction

Maciej T. Wybraniec
Edyta Reichman-Warmusz
Michał Lelek
Tomasz Bochenek
Romuald J. Wojnicz
Katarzyna Mizia-Stec

Adv Interv Cardiol 2019; 15, 4 (58): 489–491
Online publish date: 2019/12/08
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The clinical differentiation between thrombophilia-related coronary embolization and classic atheroma-related acute myocardial infarction (AMI) remains challenging as laboratory tests may be unreliable in the acute setting [1]. Since angiographic and intravascular imaging is often inconclusive, we propose the use of pathological examination of the aspirated thrombus for selection of patients requiring chronic anticoagulation in addition to antiplatelet therapy. This concept has recently been adopted in a 37-year-old patient presenting with 2-hour retrosternal chest pain at rest in the course of inferior wall ST-segment elevation AMI. Pre-procedural transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) showed mildly depressed left ventricular (LV) systolic function with hypokinesis of the inferior wall and presence of a well-organized thrombus attached to apical segments of LV (28 × 21 mm) (Figure 1 A). The coronary angiography performed via a right radial approach showed acute occlusion of the right coronary artery and non-significant, parietal lesions within the left coronary artery. The occlusion was crossed with a Balance Middleweight guide wire (Figure 1 B) and the thrombus was aspirated using an Export thrombectomy catheter (Figure 1 C). The aspirated thrombus (Figure 1 D) was then stored in neutral buffered formalin and PolyTransport buffer. Subsequently, a 3.5 × 16 mm Promus Element stent was implanted in the lesion and post-dilated with a 4.0 × 15 mm non-compliant balloon, leading to complete restoration of the patency of the vessel with a small distal residual thrombus (Figure 1 E). Prolonged ECG monitoring showed no proof of atrial fibrillation. The histopathologic examination, which comprised standard hematoxylin and eosin staining, showed a complex structure, characterized by hypocellular retracted fibrin conglomerate, partially infiltrated with neutrophils (Figures 1 F and G). The image was consistent with a well-organized, relatively old thrombus, which did not correspond with in situ clot formation due to rupture of the atheromatous plaque. In addition to aspirin and ticagrelor and intra-procedural bolus of unfractionated heparin, the patient received transient 18-hour infusion of eptifibatide, followed by intravenous infusion of unfractionated heparin overlapping with initiation of oral anticoagulation. At post-procedural day 3, the patient was switched from ticagrelor to clopidogrel. The patient was discharged home at post-procedural day 6 with clopidogrel, aspirin and warfarin. The extended laboratory tests at 6 weeks confirmed the presence of a prothrombin heterozygous G20210A mutation responsible for the hypercoagulable state. The follow-up TTE confirmed only partial resolution of the thrombus. At 6-month follow-up aspirin was withdrawn, while clopidogrel was recommended up to 12 months, followed by life-long treatment with a vitamin K antagonist.
Despite unfavourable results of recent randomized controlled trials [2], the use of aspiration thrombectomy might potentially facilitate early diagnosis of thromboembolic AMI by means of early histopathologic examination of the aspirated thrombus, advocating in favour of initiation of chronic anticoagulation therapy during index hospitalization [3]. This approach, however, is limited by the absence of intracoronary imaging in the form of optimal coherence tomography (OCT), which could delineate the absence of intimal rupture, while the older age of the thrombus might also be related to episodes of prior subclinical non-occlusive coronary thrombosis [4]. Still, the presence of LV thrombus and the intracoronary thrombus composition should advocate in favour of embolic aetiology of AMI and guide appropriate treatment.


This work was financed from the Grant for Young Scientists under the auspices of Club 30 of the Polish Cardiac Society.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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4. Kostić J, Orlić D, Borović ML, et al. Coronary thrombi neovascularization in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction – clinical and angiographic implications. Thromb Res 2014; 134: 1038-45.

Corresponding author:
Maciej T. Wybraniec, First Department of Cardiology, School of Medicine, Medical University of Silesia, 47 Ziołowa St, 40-635 Katowice, Poland, phone: +48 32 359 88 90, e-mail: maciejwybraniec@gmail.com
Received: 30.01.2019, accepted: 7.04.2019.
Copyright: © 2019 Termedia Sp. z o. o. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
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