BACKGROUND: In patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS), distal embolization of thrombotic material is more likely to play a key role in the pathogenesis of myocardial no-reflow during percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Thus, interventional techniques able to reduce thrombus burden at the culprit vessel might improve final myocardial reperfusion. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a new rapid-exchange thrombus-aspirating catheter, the Diver C.E., in patients with thrombotic coronary lesions undergoing PCI. METHODS: Fifty patients with acute myocardial infarction (n = 44) or with non-ST-elevation ACS and angiographic evidence of coronary thrombus (n = 6) undergoing urgent PCI were prospectively enrolled. The Diver C.E. was used to aspirate coronary thrombus from the culprit lesion after placement of the guidewire. Adjunctive balloon inflations and stent implantation were used to achieve good angiographic result. Angiographic coronary flow (by means of TIMI score and corrected TIMI frame count, cTFC), thrombus score (TS), and myocardial perfusion (by means of postintervention myocardial blush grade, MBG) were assessed in all patients. RESULTS: The device could be successfully employed in 96% of the cases (48/50) and yielded significant (P < 0.0001) acute reduction in thrombus burden (TS: predevice 3.5 +/- 0.8, postdevice 2.5 +/- 0.9) and improvement in coronary flow (TIMI grade: predevice 1.0 +/- 0.9, postdevice 2.0 +/- 0.9; CTFC predevice 71 +/- 31, postdevice 39 +/- 26). Final TIMI grade 0-1 was observed in one patient only (2%). A significant (P = 0.02) correlation was found between preintervention TS and efficacy of thrombus aspiration. A more pronounced acute reduction of thrombus burden after thrombus aspiration (TS reduction > or = 2) was associated with a better postintervention angiographic myocardial perfusion (MBG 2.3 +/- 0.9 vs 1.7 +/- 0.8; P = 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: This new, easy-to-use, device is able to reduce thrombus burden and to improve coronary flow in patients with thrombus-containing lesions. The improvement in myocardial perfusion associated to greater thrombus removal highlights the importance of thrombus aspiration in the management of thrombus-burdened coronary lesions.
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