Medical Policies - Medicine


Optical Coherence Tomography for Imaging of Coronary Arteries

Number:MED202.065

Effective Date:10-01-2018

Coverage:

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Optical coherence tomography is considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven when used as an adjunct to percutaneous coronary interventions with stenting.

Optical coherence tomography is considered experimental, investigational and/or unproven in all other situations, including but not limited to, risk stratification of intracoronary atherosclerotic plaques and follow-up evaluation of stenting.

Description:

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an imaging technique that uses near-infrared light to image the coronary arteries. Potential applications in cardiology include evaluating the characteristics of coronary artery plaques for the purpose of risk stratification and following coronary stenting to determine the success of the procedure.

OCT has important similarities to intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), and also important differences. Ultrasound uses acoustic waves for imaging, while OCT uses near-infrared electromagnetic light waves. OCT generates cross-sectional images by using the time delay and intensity of light reflected from internal tissue structure. The main obstacle to OCT is the difficulty of imaging through blood, necessitating saline flushes or occlusion techniques to obtain images. Frequency-domain OCT (FD-OCT) is a newer generation device that partially alleviates this problem by allowing faster scanning and less need for blood clearing. (1)

OCT has higher resolution than ultrasound but more shallow penetration of tissue. Tissue resolution of up to 5-10 µm has been achieved, which is approximately 10 times greater than ultrasound. However, the technique is limited by its inability to penetrate more than several millimeters in depth. This is compared with IVUS, which has a penetration depth of approximately 10 mm. (1)

One goal of intravascular imaging has been to risk stratify atherosclerotic plaques regarding their risk of rupture. Intravascular ultrasound has defined a “vulnerable” coronary plaque that may be at higher risk for rupture. Characteristics of the vulnerable coronary plaque include a lipid-rich atheroma with a thin fibrous cap. Other features of vulnerable plaques include a large lipid pool within the vessel wall, a fibrous cap of 6 µm or less, and macrophages positioned near the fibrous cap. (3)

Another goal of intravascular imaging is as an adjunct to percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with stent placement. Stent features that are often evaluated immediately postprocedure include the position of the stent, apposition of the struts to the vessel wall, and presence of thrombus or intimal flaps. These features are a measure of procedural success and optimal stent placement. Subsequent follow-up intravascular imaging at several months to 1-year post stenting can be used to evaluate neo-endothelialization on the endoluminal surface of the stent. The presence of neointimal coverage of drug-eluting stents and the absence of stent thrombosis have been correlated with favorable outcomes. (2) Therefore, the adequacy of neointimal coverage has been proposed as an intermediate outcome in clinical trials of stenting.

Regulatory Status

Several intracoronary OCT products have been cleared for marketing through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The following products received FDA approval through the FDA 510(k) process, including but not limited to:

C7 XR Imaging system (April 2010) and the C7 Dragonfly Intravascular Imaging catheter (April, 2010), acquired by St. Jude Medical, Inc., (St. Paul, MN). (4)

ILUMIEN OPTIS with DragonflyTM Imaging Catheter (July 2015), (LightLab Imaging, Inc., Westford, MA). (5)

Please refer to <https://www.accessdata.fda.gov> for additional intracoronary OCT devices that are currently being evaluated through the FDA 510(k) process. FDA product code: NQQ.

Rationale:

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is intended as an alternative to intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) for imaging the coronary arteries. Therefore, the most relevant type of studies in evaluating the utility of OCT includes a head-to-head comparison between OCT and IVUS. These studies are limited by the lack of a true criterion standard for intravascular imaging but nevertheless can compare the frequency and type of findings between the 2 types of imaging. Single-arm case series of OCT provide less useful information. Results from case series can characterize the findings that are obtained from OCT, use these findings to predict future events, and provide important information on adverse events. However, case series provide limited data on the comparative efficacy of OCT and IVUS.

Literature was identified in the following general categories of OCT use. These were:

Technical performance of OCT;

Identification and risk stratification of the “vulnerable plaque”;

Adjunctive treatment as part of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs); and

Follow-up evaluation post stent placement.

Technical Performance of OCT

The reliability of OCT findings was examined by Gonzalo et al. (6) These authors used a second-generation, frequency-domain OCT (FD-OCT) and evaluated the reproducibility of OCT findings according to the interstudy, interobserver, and intraobserver variability. Overall, the reproducibility of the OCT findings was high. The reproducibility of stent features such as edge dissection, tissue prolapse, intrastent dissection, and stent malapposition was 100% (k=1.0). Plaque characteristics also had high reproducibility, with kappa values for interstudy, interobserver, and intraobserver variability of 0.92, 0.82, and 0.95, respectively.

Fedele et al. evaluated the reproducibility of OCT lumen and length measurements. (7) In this study, OCT measurements were taken twice at intervals of 5 minutes in 25 patients undergoing coronary angiography. The per-segment and per-frame analyses showed high correlation for interobserver, intraobserver, and intrapullback comparisons for lumen area and length (R≥0.95 and p<0.001 for all correlations), indicating excellent reproducibility. Similarly, Jamil et al. (8) reported good interstudy correlation for FD-OCT in evaluation of both stented and native coronary arteries in 18 patients undergoing PCI (R2=0.99 and p<0.001 for mean lumen area and minimal lumen area for repeat evaluations of the same coronary lesion). A limitation of the study is that it is a small sample size and lacks inter-observer analysis. This is also a single-center study, which the authors believe may imply potential biases. However, we recently reported the observer-related variability of quantitative Fourier-domain OCT measurements in vivo. Liu et al. reported good intra- and interobserver reliability for stent length measurements, along with high correlation between OCT and IVUS for stent length measurements in 77 patients undergoing PCI with stenting. (9)

In contrast, Brugaletta et al. (10) demonstrated a higher level of variability in inter- and intraobserver measurements of stent strut coverage with FD-OCT, with kappa values of 0.32 to 0.4 for interobserver measurements, depending on the OCT zoom setting, and 0.6 to 0.75 for intraobserver measurements. Stent strut coverage assessment is less standardized than other measures of vessel plaques or stents, so increased variability in measurements may be expected but should be considered in studies that use FD-OCT to measure stent strut coverage.

Identification, Risk Stratification, and Treatment of the “Vulnerable Plaque”

A number of studies have compared OCT with IVUS for evaluation of the vulnerable plaque. One of the earliest of these studies was reported by Jang et al. in 2002. (11) These authors compared the findings of 42 coronary plaques in 10 patients who underwent angiography, IVUS, and OCT. OCT had higher axial resolution compared with IVUS (13 mm vs 98 mm). All of the fibrous plaques, microcalcifications, and echolucent areas identified by IVUS were also imaged by OCT. There were additional cases of echolucent regions and intimal hyperplasia that were imaged with OCT but not seen with IVUS.

Kubo et al. (12) compared OCT and IVUS for identifying and classifying vulnerable plaques. A total of 96 target lesions were examined by both OCT and IVUS, and the presence of a ‘vulnerable plaque’ was made using standard definitions for each procedure. OCT identified 18 vulnerable plaques as evidenced by thin fibrous caps of less than 65 µm. IVUS identified 16 of 18 vulnerable plaques for a sensitivity of 89% compared with OCT. IVUS also identified an additional 11 lesions as vulnerable that did not meet the criteria by OCT. These were assumed to be false-positive IVUS results, resulting in a specificity for IVUS of 86%. The positive and negative predictive values for IVUS were 59% and 97%, respectively.

Miyamoto et al. (13) studied 81 coronary lesions with a plaque burden of greater than 40%. IVUS and OCT gave somewhat different profiles of plaque characteristics. Vulnerable plaques identified by OCT had a larger plaque burden, more positive remodeling, and less fibrous plaque compared with IVUS. The natural history of the atherosclerotic plaque is not well understood. Prospective cohort studies that use OCT to define plaque characteristics, and that follow patients over time to determine the factors that predict poor outcomes such as acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or plaque progression, are important to better define the features of the vulnerable plaque that are associated with poor outcomes.

Uemura et al. (14) published a prospective cohort study in 2011 that evaluated the ability of OCT to predict the natural history of coronary plaques. This study enrolled 53 patients, with 69 nonobstructing coronary plaques, who had undergone both PCI and OCT. A second coronary angiogram was performed at a mean follow-up of 7 months to assess progression of plaques. There were 13 of 69 lesions (18.8%) that showed progression on angiography at follow-up. There were several plaque characteristics defined by OCT that were predictive of progression, while the luminal diameter of the stenosis was not predictive. The factors that were found more frequently in lesions that progressed were intimal laceration (61.5% vs 8.9%, p<0.01), microchannel images (76.9% vs 14.3%, p<0.01), lipid pools (100% vs 60.7%, p=0.02), thin-cap fibroatheroma (76.9% vs 14.3%, p<0.01), macrophage images (61.5% vs 14.3%, p<0.01), and intraluminal thrombi (30.8% vs 1.8%, p<0.01). On regression analysis, the presence of fine-cap atheroma and microchannel images were strong predictors of progression, with odds ratios of approximately 20.

Cross-sectional studies of risk stratification by OCT have also been published. In these studies, angiography is performed 1 time, and characteristics of the plaque as defined by OCT are correlated with plaque rupture and/or other angiography findings. Yonetsu et al. (15) performed a cross-sectional study of 266 coronary plaques identified on angiography. A reliable measure of cap thickness was obtained in 188/266 patients (70.7%). The thickness of the fibrous cap was an independent predictor of plaque rupture, and the optimal cutoff for predicting plaque rupture was estimated to be less than 67 µm.

Guo et al. (16) performed a cross-sectional study to evaluate characteristics of coronary plaques associated with coronary artery thrombosis. The authors included 42 patients with coronary artery plaque rupture detected by OCT during evaluation of 216 native coronary artery lesions among 170 patients. Plaques were divided into those with and without thrombus, which occurred in 64% of coronary plaques. Ruptured plaques with thrombus had significantly thinner fibrous caps than those without thrombus (57 µm vs 96 µm, p=0.008).

Jia et al. (17) used data from a multicenter registry of patients who had undergone OCT imaging of coronary arteries to characterize the morphologic features on OCT of the culprit coronary plaques in acute coronary syndrome. They included 126 patients with acute coronary syndrome who underwent preintervention OCT imaging. Plaques were defined by OCT imaging as having plaque rupture (disrupted fibrous cap with underlying lipid), as an OCT-calcified nodule (disrupted fibrous cap with underlying calcium), as an OCT-erosion (intact fibrous cap), or other, and the category of culprit plaque pathology was compared with clinical and angiographic outcomes. The authors found significant differences in age, presentation with non-ST segmented elevation ACS, and vessel diameter across different types of plaque. Given these differences, the study suggests that different types of plaque features may be caused by different underlying pathologies and warrant different treatment approaches; however, without further study, this study is not sufficient to determine changes in treatment that should occur based on OCT results.

Gamou et al. (18) conducted a cross-sectional study of the association between OCT-determined coronary plaque morphology and deteriorated coronary flow after stent in 126 subjects undergoing stenting, 44 with ACS and 82 with stable angina pectoris. Patients were divided into the deteriorated flow group (n=21) and the reflow group (n=105) based on deterioration of Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) flow grade on angiography after mechanical dilatation, with significant differences in the presence of reflow based on presentation (ACS vs stable angina; p<0.000). The presence of thrombus or thin-cap fibroatheroma on OCT was associated with deteriorated flow on angiography for patients with both ACS and stable angina. In multivariable modeling, thin cap fibroatheroma was independently predictive of deteriorated flow (hazard ration [HR], 12.32; 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.02 to 50.31; p<0.000).

In another study evaluating characteristics of high-risk coronary plaques, Galon et al. (19) compared plaque characteristics for non-culprit coronary plaques in patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) compared with those with stable angina pectoris. The study included 67 patients, 30 with STEMI and 37 with stable angina who underwent OCT evaluation after stent implantation. Compared with plaques in patients with stable angina, coronary plaques in STEMI patients had more surface area for thin-cap fibroatheroma (0.43 mm2 vs 0.15 mm2; p=0.011), thinner minimum fibrous cap thickness (31.63µm vs 47.27 µm; p=0.012), greater fractional luminal area for thin-cap fibroatheroma (1.65% vs 0.74%; p=0.046), and greater macrophage index (0.0217% vs 0.0153%; p<0.01).

In 2012, Wykrzykowska et al. (18) reported on initial results of a pilot study that treated high-risk plaques with a nitinol self-expanding vShield® device. High-risk plaques were defined as the presence of a thin cap fibroatheroma on OCT examination. A total of 23 patients were randomized to vShield® (n=13) or medical therapy (n=10). After 6 months of follow-up, there were no dissections or plaque rupture after shield placement. There were no device-related adverse events at 6 months for patients treated with vShield®. The mean stent area increased by 9% at 6-month follow-up. This small pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) demonstrates the feasibility of identifying patients with vulnerable plaque by OCT and treating with a vShield® device. A long-term larger randomized study with streamlined screening criteria is needed to evaluate the efficacy of this approach over medical therapy.

Section Summary: Identification, Risk Stratification, and Treatment of the “Vulnerable Plaque”

OCT can be used to evaluate morphologic features of atherosclerotic plaques and to risk-stratify plaques as to their chance of rupture. Limited evidence from studies that compare OCT with IVUS indicate that OCT picks up more abnormalities than does IVUS and is probably more accurate in classifying plaques as high risk. Because of the lack of a true criterion standard, the sensitivity and specificity of OCT for this purpose cannot be determined with certainty. Some experts consider OCT to be the criterion standard for this purpose and compare other tests with OCT.

Although OCT may be more accurate than other imaging modalities, the clinical utility is uncertain. It is not clear which patients should be assessed for a high-risk plaque, nor is it clear whether changes in management should occur as a result of testing. One clinical trial has used OCT to select patients for treatment of vulnerable plaques, but no outcome data have been reported yet. Therefore, the evidence is not sufficient to determine the effect of OCT on health outcomes when used to assess coronary atherosclerotic plaques.

Adjunctive Treatment as Part of Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCIs)

Several studies have demonstrated that the use of IVUS as an adjunct to PCI may result in improved outcomes. (21-23)

In 2016, Ali et al. (24) sought to establish whether OCT-based stent sizing strategy would result in a minimum stent area similar to or better than that achieved with IVUS guidance and better than that achieved with angiography guidance alone. This RCT recruited patients aged 18 years or older undergoing PCI from 29 hospitals in 8 countries. Eligible patients had one or more target lesions located in a native coronary artery with a visually estimated reference vessel diameter of 225-350 mm and a length of less than 40 mm. Patients with left main or ostial right coronary artery stenoses, bypass graft stenoses, chronic total occlusions, planned two-stent bifurcations, and in-stent restenosis were excluded. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1; with use of an interactive web-based system in block sizes of three, stratified by site) to OCT guidance, IVUS guidance, or angiography-guided stent implantation. OCT-guided PCI was performed to establish stent length, diameter, and expansion according to reference segment external elastic lamina measurements. All patients underwent final OCT imaging (operators in the IVUS and angiography groups were masked to the OCT images). The primary efficacy endpoint was post-PCI minimum stent area, measured by OCT at a masked independent core laboratory at completion of enrollment, in all randomly allocated participants who had primary outcome data. The primary safety endpoint was procedural major adverse cardiac events (MACE). Non-inferiority of OCT guidance to IVUS guidance (with a non-inferiority margin of 10 mm2), superiority of OCT guidance to angiography guidance, and superiority of OCT guidance to IVUS guidance were tested. Between May 13, 2015, and April 5, 2016, the investigators randomly allocated 450 patients (158 [35%] to OCT, 146 [32%] to IVUS, and 146 [32%] to angiography), with 415 final OCT acquisitions analyzed for the primary endpoint (140 [34%] in the OCT group, 135 [33%] in the IVUS group, and 140 [34%] in the angiography group). The final median minimum stent area was 579 mm2 (IQR 454-734) with OCT guidance, 589 mm2 (467-780) with IVUS guidance, and 549 mm2 (439-659) with angiography guidance. OCT guidance was non-inferior to IVUS guidance (one-sided 975% lower CI -070 mm2; p=0001), but not superior (p=042). OCT guidance was also not superior to angiography guidance (p=012). We noted procedural MACE in four (3%) of 158 patients in the OCT group, one (1%) of 146 in the IVUS group, and one (1%) of 146 in the angiography group (OCT vs IVUS p=037; OCT vs angiography p=037). The study concluded that OCT-guided PCI using a specific reference segment external elastic lamina-based stent optimisation strategy was safe and resulted in similar minimum stent area to that of IVUS-guided PCI and that data warrant a large-scale randomized trial to establish whether or not OCT guidance results in superior clinical outcomes to angiography guidance.

The revised 2001 Guidelines from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association for use of IVUS as an adjunct to PCI (25) include the following:

Assessment of the adequacy of deployment of coronary stents, including the extent of stent apposition and determination of the minimum luminal diameter within the stent (Level of Evidence: B).

Determination of the mechanism of stent restenosis (inadequate expansion vs. neointimal proliferation) and to enable selection of appropriate therapy (plaque ablation vs. repeat balloon expansion). (Level of Evidence B)

Evaluation of coronary obstruction at a location difficult to image by angiography in a patient with a suspected flow-limiting stenosis. (Level of Evidence C)

Assessment of a suboptimal angiographic result following PCI (Level of Evidence C)

Diagnosis and management of coronary disease following cardiac transplantation. (Level of Evidence: C)

Establish presence and distribution of coronary calcium in patients for whom adjunctive rotational atherectomy is contemplated (Level of Evidence: C).

Determination of plaque location and circumferential distribution for guidance of directional coronary atherectomy (Level of Evidence: B).

The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association weight of evidence in support of the recommendation for each listed indication is represented as follows (25):

Level of Evidence A: Data derived from multiple randomized clinical trials.

Level of Evidence B: Data derived from a single randomized trial or nonrandomized studies.

Level of Evidence C: Consensus opinion of experts.

OCT as an Adjunct to PCI: Comparisons with IVUS

One randomized trial, and a number of nonrandomized comparative studies have compared OCT with IVUS as an adjunct to PCI. In 2012, Habara et al. (26) performed a small open-label RCT comparing OCT with IVUS in 70 patients undergoing stent implantation. Outcomes were primarily measures of optimal stent deployment, such mean stent area and stent expansion immediately following the procedure. There were no significant differences on the majority of procedural and stent-related outcomes measures. However, there were several outcomes that were superior for the IVUS group. The mean stent area was greater for IVUS compared with OCT (8.7±2.4 mm vs 7.5±2.5 mm, p<0.05); the percent focal and diffuse stent expansion was greater for the IVUS group (80.3+13.4% vs 64.7%±13.7%, and 98.8%±16.5% vs 84.2%±15.8%; both p<0.05); the frequency of distal edge stenosis was lower for the IVUS group (22.9% vs 2.9%, p<0.005). These results suggest an advantage for IVUS over OCT in achieving optimal stent deployment.

A matched comparison of patients undergoing angiography alone versus angiography plus OCT was published by Prati et al. in 2012. (27) A total of 335 patients were treated with OCT as an adjunct to angiography and PCI, these were matched with 335 patients undergoing PCI without adjunct OCT. The primary end point was the 1-year rate of cardiac death or myocardial infarction. In 34.7% of cases in the OCT group, additional findings on OCT led to changes in management. Patients in the OCT group had a lower rate of death or MI at 1 year, even following multivariate analysis with propensity matching (odds ratio, 0.49; 95% confidence interval, 0.25 to 0.96; p=0.037). This observational study, suggests that the use of OCT can improve clinical outcomes of patients undergoing PCI.

Yamaguchi et al. (28) studied 76 patients from 8 medical centers who were undergoing angiography and possible PCI. Both IVUS and OCT were performed in a single target lesion selected for a native coronary artery with a visible plaque that is less than 99% of lumen diameter. Procedural success was 97.3% for OCT compared with 94.5% for IVUS. There were 5 cases in which the smaller OCT catheter could cross a tight stenosis where the IVUS catheter could not. There were no deaths or major complications of the procedures. Minimal lumen diameter was highly correlated between the 2 modalities (r=0.91, p<0.001). Visibility of the lumen border was superior with OCT, with poor visibility reported for 6.1% of OCT images compared with 17.3% by IVUS (p<0.001).

Kawamori et al. (29) reported on 18 patients who were undergoing stenting and had both OCT and IVUS performed. The lumen area of the culprit vessel was smaller on OCT images compared with IVUS. OCT was more sensitive in identifying instances of stent malapposition compared with IVUS (30% vs 5%, p=0.04). OCT also picked up a greater number of cases with stent edge dissection (10% vs 0%) and with stent thrombosis (15% vs 5%). These results were interpreted as demonstrating the higher resolution and greater detail obtained with OCT compared with IVUS. Further study is warranted to assess its clinical utility.

Bezerra et al. (30) compared IVUS with both frequency-domain (FD) and time-domain (TD) OCT in both stented and unstented vessels. The authors included 100 matched FD-OCT and IVUS evaluations in 56 nonstented and 44 stented vessels and 127 matched TD-OCT and IVUS evaluations in stented vessels, all in 187 patients who were undergoing percutaneous coronary interventions in several trials. The results from their evaluations in stented vessels follow. The authors included comparisons between 44 matched FD-OCT and IVUS evaluations and 127 matched TD-OCT and IVUS evaluations in stented vessels. (27) In the immediate post-PCI stent evaluations, tissue protrusion and malapposition areas were significantly larger by FD-OCT compared with IVUS (for tissue protrusion, OCT-IVUS difference 0.16 mm2, p<0.001; for malapposition areas, OCT-IVUS difference 0.24 mm2, p=0.017). Acute malapposition rates were 96.2% with FD-OCT compared with 42.3% with IVUS (k=0.241, p<0.001). However, measurements of mean area were larger for IVUS compared with FD-OCT (OCT-IVUS difference -0.50 mm2, p=0.002). For follow up of stented vessels, compared with IVUS, FD-OCT detected smaller minimal stent lumen areas (3.39 mm2 vs 4.38 mm2, p<0.001) and a greater neointimal hyperplasia area (1.66 mm2 vs 1.03 mm2, p<0.001). Similar findings were seen when TD-OCT was compared with IVUS. These results corroborate other studies’ findings that FD-OCT may be associated with greater detail resolution than IVUS in assessing coronary artery stents. The direction of the difference in immediate post-PCI stent area measurements between FD-OCT and IVUS measurements were counter to the authors’ expectations; on reevaluation of imaging, they determined that patients with post-PCI imaging had more calcification than those who had follow up imaging, and hypothesized that the calcification may have affected detection of the stent-liminal interface on immediate post procedure IVUS images.

Sohn et al. (31) compared detection rates for tissue prolapse after drug eluting stent implantation between OCT and IVUS among 38 patients undergoing stent placement for coronary artery disease. Tissue prolapse was detected in 38 of 40 lesions (95%) on OCT, compared with 18 of 40 lesions (45%) on IVUS. Thirty patients were followed clinically for 2 years postprocedure, during which time 1 case of sudden cardiac death occurred, but no cases of MI, target vessel revascularization, or stent thrombosis. The clinical significance of the OCT detection rate is unclear given that the presence of tissue prolapse was not correlated with major cardiac adverse events during follow-up. In a study with similar findings regarding cardiac adverse events,

Sugiyama et al. (32) compared tissue prolapse measurements on OCT with stent morphologic characteristics among 178 native coronary lesions in patients undergoing PCI with stent placement. Although higher degrees of tissue prolapse on OCT were associated with the presence of thin-cap fibroatheroma, there was no association between the presence of tissue prolapse and clinical events during 9 months of follow-up.

In 2015, Ann et al. (33) compared detection rates for edge dissection after drug eluting stent implantation between angiography, IVUS, and OCT among 58 patients who underwent balloon-expandable stent placement. Stent edge dissection was detected in 24/100 stent edges (24%) on OCT imaging, compared with 3/100 (3%) of stent edges on angiography and 4/100 (4%) stent edges on IVUS. Over 1 year of follow-up, 1 patient with an edge dissection showed an angiographic in-stent restenosis; no cases of death, MI, target lesion revascularization, or stent thrombosis occurred.

Evaluation of Treatment Pathways Using OCT-Assisted PCI

A small body of literature has addressed whether a treatment pathway guided by OCT measurements is feasible or leads to improvements in outcomes. One potential role for OCT-guided therapy is in the use of repeat OCT measurements in the acute setting for guiding treatment decisions for patients with ACS who have undergone revascularization, particularly those with large thrombus burden who have undergone thrombus aspiration. OCT may be useful in these patients in determining the need for stent placement post-thrombus aspiration, based on the size and appearance of any residual clot. Controlled trials of OCT-assisted PCI versus a standard approach are needed to determine whether OCT guided PCI improves outcomes.

Two uncontrolled studies of OCT-guided PCI were identified. Souteyrand et al. conducted a prospective observational cohort study to evaluate outcomes for invasive treatment decisions guided by OCT in patients with ACS with a large thrombus burden. (34) Based on results of OCT, 63 (62.4%) patients underwent stenting, while the remainder were managed medically. Over 12 months of follow-up, no sudden deaths or MIs occurred. In 2014, Cervinka et al. reported results of a pilot study to assess whether OCT guidance could guide intervention during primary PCI with the goal of avoiding balloon angioplasty and stenting. (35) The study included 100 patients with STEMI and who underwent thrombus aspiration followed by OCT. Based on OCT imaging, 20 patients were treated with thrombus aspiration only. At follow-up angiography 1-week post-procedure, all 20 treated with thrombus aspiration only had a “normal vessel” without significant stenosis and evidence of nonobstructive thin-cap fibroatheroma. No major adverse clinical events occurred at 30-day, 9-month, or 12-month follow-up in either group.

Currently, these uncontrolled studies demonstrate the feasibility of an OCT-guided approach to stent placement following thrombus aspiration. However, this evidence does not permit conclusions about whether OCT- guided treatment decisions improve outcomes compared with standard approaches, given the lack of a control group. Further high-quality comparative trials are needed.

Section Summary: Adjunctive Treatment as Part of Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCIs)

The evidence on use of OCT as an adjunct to PCI consists of 1 small RCT and several nonrandomized studies that compare the results of OCT with IVUS as an adjunct to PCI to evaluate stent placement, along with several nonrandomized studies that assess the feasibility of an OCT-guided treatment strategy of deferred stenting. Because of the lack of a true criterion standard, it is not possible to determine the accuracy of OCT for detecting abnormalities of stent placement with certainty. The available studies report that OCT picks up more abnormalities than does IVUS, including abnormalities such as stent malapposition that lead to changes in management. The single RCT comparing OCT with IVUS did not report any advantage of OCT over IVUS, and in fact IVUS was superior to OCT on a number of outcome measures. Overall, the evidence is limited and not sufficient to determine the degree of improvement with OCT or the clinical significance of this improvement. As a result, it is not possible to determine whether OCT improves health outcomes when used as an adjunct to PCI.

Follow-up Evaluations Poststent Placement

A large number of studies use OCT as a research tool, primarily for studies of coronary stenting. OCT is used to assess the degree of neoendothelial coverage of the stent within the first year of placement. Stent coverage is considered an important intermediate outcome, as it has been shown to be predictive of clinical outcomes for patients undergoing stenting. (36) These types of studies do not provide any relevant information on the clinical utility of OCT and will therefore not be discussed further in this policy.

A smaller number of studies evaluate the clinical utility of OCT for follow-up evaluation post stenting. Capodanno et al. (37) compared OCT with IVUS for stent evaluation in 20 patients who had stent implantation 6 months before. The parameters that were compared included stent length, vessel luminal area, stent area, and the percent of stent coverage with neoendothelial cells. The measurement of stent length was similar between IVUS and OCT (16.3±3.0 mm vs 16.2±3.8 mm, p=0.82). However, the other measured parameters differed between groups. Vessel luminal area was significantly lower by OCT compared with IVUS (3.83±1.60 mm2 vs 4.05±1.44 mm2, p=0.82), while stent area was significantly higher with OCT (6.61±1.39 mm2 vs 6.17±1.07 mm2, p<0.001). The percentage of tissue coverage was also higher with OCT (43.4%±16.1% vs 35.5%±16.4%), suggesting that IVUS underestimates stent coverage compared with OCT.

Inoue et al. (38) used OCT to evaluate 25 patients who had previously undergone PCI with drug-eluting stents. OCT was performed at a mean of 236±39 days post-PCI. OCT identified neointimal coverage of the stent in 98.4% of cases. In 0.52%, there was evidence of stent malapposition and a lack of neointimal coverage. Full neointimal coverage was evident in 37% of stents. In 7.2% of patients, there was evidence of a low-intensity area surrounding the struts, which is thought to be indicative of abnormal neointimal maturation. There were no intrastent thrombi identified and no major complications of the procedure.

Section Summary: Follow-up Evaluations Poststent Placement

The use of OCT as a follow-up to stenting can determine the extent of neoendothelial covering within the first year of stenting. This parameter is predictive of future stent-related events and has been used as an intermediate outcome in stenting trials. However, the clinical relevance of measuring stent neo-endothelialization has not been demonstrated. While this might provide prognostic information, it is not clear how management would be changed or health outcomes improved. As it can for native vessel lesions, OCT may be able to identify stenosis within stents. However, evidence is currently lacking to link its use to identify stent stenosis to clinical outcomes.

Other Uses

Other uses of OCT for coronary artery disease have been evaluated. In one small case series, Harris et al. evaluated the feasibility of OCT for the evaluation of coronary artery abnormalities in pediatric Kawasaki disease (n=5) and heart transplants (n=12). (39) This study had a small population and currently the overall evidence is insufficient to determine the efficacy of OCT for these uses.

Safety

The safety of optical coherence tomography (OCT) was evaluated in a large multicenter case series of 468 patients. (40) These patients underwent OCT for the indications of: evaluation of plaque (40%), adjunct to percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) (28.2%), and follow-up of stenting (31.8%). The most common side effect of the procedure was transient chest pain and electrocardiogram changes that occurred in 48% of patients. Major complications were rare, with a total of 9 major complications occurring in 468 patients (1.9%). Major complications included 5 cases of ventricular fibrillation associated with balloon occlusion, 3 cases of air embolism, and 1 case of vessel dissection. There was no periprocedural myocardial infarction (MI) or other major cardiac adverse events that occurred as a result of the procedure.

In a smaller single-center case series, Lehtinen et al. (41) evaluated the safety of OCT in 230 OCT evaluations in 210 patients. PCI was performed in 44.3% of examinations. OCT was successful in 87.8% of examinations. Periprocedural complications were rare; chest pain was the most commonly seen, occurring in 10.9% of OCT examinations. One patient died of heart failure after PCI for acute MI.

Ongoing and Unpublished Clinical Trials

A search of ClinicalTrials.gov identified several recent or ongoing randomized trials relevant to the use of OCT in coronary artery assessment. Following are some key clinical trials:

Does Optical Coherence Tomography Optimise Results of Stenting (NCT01743274). This study will randomize patients with acute coronary syndrome undergoing PCI with stenting to an intervention group, which will undergo OCT measurements to optimize the stent procedure, or a control group, which will receive usual care. (42) The primary outcome measure is the functional result of the PCI procedure as assessed by fractional flow reserve (FFR). Target enrollment is 230. The study’s protocol has been published. The estimated study completion date is listed as October 2016. To date, there are no study results posted.

FFR or OCT Guidance to Revascularize Intermediate Coronary Stenosis Using Angioplasty (FORZA) (NCT01824030). This study is a randomized open-label trial to compare guided PCI with OCT-guided PCI in the management of patients with angiographic intermediate coronary stenosis. (43) The primary outcome measure is the occurrence of angina at 13 months postprocedure. Enrollment is Planned for 400 subjects. The estimated study completion date is April 2016. The recruitment status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years. There is no additional information available regarding this clinical trial.

Randomized Controlled Study of the Traditional Percutaneous Coronary Intervention and Intervention Using Optical Coherence Tomography of Incomplete Stent Adhesion and Extent of the Formation of Neointima by Resolute Zotarolimus-eluting Stent Insertion (NCT01869842): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare OCT-guided PCI with usual care (standard PCI) for patients undergoing PCI with stent placement with Resolute zotarolimus-eluting stent insertion for stable angina requiring revascularization or unstable angina. (44) Enrollment is planned for 115 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2016. The status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years. There is no additional information available regarding this clinical trial.

Optimal dRug Eluting steNts Implantation Guided By Intravascular Ultrasound and Optical coheRence tomoGraphy ORENBURG (NCT01917201): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare PCI guided by OCT and IVUS with usual care (unguided PCI) in patients undergoing PCI with drug-eluting stent placement. (45) Enrollment is planned for 1000 subjects; the estimated study completion date was December 2014, with follow-up through December 2016. The status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years. There is no additional information available regarding this clinical trial.

The Comparative Study of OCT, Gemstone CT and 320-detector Row Spiral CT for Evaluating Restenosis of Coronary Artery Stent (NCT02219594): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare the accuracy for several imaging modalities, including OCT, in the detection of in-stent restenosis in patients undergoing routine retesting 9 to 12 months after coronary stent implantation. (46) Enrollment is planned for 150 subjects; the estimated study completion date is December 2016. The status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years. There is no additional information available regarding this clinical trial.

The Does Optical Coherence Tomography Optimize Revascularization (DOCTOR) Recross Study (DOCTOR Recross) (NCT02234804): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare OCT-guided wire recrossing with angiography-guided wire recrossing for patients undergoing PCI with stent placement for stable or unstable angina. The study’s primary outcome is the cross- sectional stent strut malapposition in the main vessel bifurcation segment facing the side-branch ostium. (47) Enrollment is planned for 60 subjects. The planned study is actively recruiting patients and has a completion date of February 2017. To date, there are no study results posted. There is no additional information available regarding this clinical trial.

DETErmination of the Duration of the Dual Antiplatelet Therapy by the Degree of the Coverage of The Struts on Optical Coherence Tomography From the Randomized Comparison Between Everolimus-eluting Stents Versus Biolimus A9-eluting Stents; DETECT-OCT Trial (NCT01752894): This is a randomized, open-label trial to compare OCT-guided PCI with angiography-guided PCI with placement of 1 or 2 types of coronary stents. Enrollment is planned for 1100 subjects. (48) The planned study completion date is November 2017.

Dissecting the Role of Distal Embolization of Athero-thrombotic Material in Primary PCI: the ThrombOticBurden and mIcrovAscularobStruction (TOBIAS) Study (NCT01914055): This is a randomized, single-blinded trial to compare OCT-guided thrombus aspiration with angiography- guided thrombus aspiration for patients undergoing PCI for ST-elevation MI. Enrollment is planned for 20 subjects. (49) The estimated study completion date is July 2015. The status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years. There is no additional information available regarding this clinical trial.

UpToDate

Evaluation of carotid artery stenosis

The 2016 UpToDate review on “Evaluation of carotid artery stenosis” (50) does not mention optical coherence tomography as a diagnostic tool.

Intravascular ultrasound, optical coherence tomography, and angioscopy of coronary circulation.

A 2017 UpToDate review (51) on "Intravascular ultrasound, optical coherence tomography, and angioscopy of coronary circulation" states that "today, no clinical indications for OCT imaging are established. There are no randomized data supporting a prognostic role for OCT in catheter-based intervention .... Preliminary data on OCT indicate that it can change the operator’s intention-to-treat and modify the overall revascularization strategy, potentially avoiding unnecessary interventional procedures. OCT might be efficient in complex interventions including treatment of left main stem, bifurcations as well as in all cases of angiographically ambiguous lesions, and in-stent failures. Two other potential uses of OCT are identification of an angiographically unclear lesion and assessment of stent failure".

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

American College of Cardiology

In a 2011 guideline for percutaneous coronary intervention (52), the American College of Cardiology stated that "the appropriate role of optical coherence tomography in routine clinical decision making has not been established".

Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions

In 2014, the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions published an expert consensus statement on the use of FFR, IVUS, and OCT, which made the following statements regarding the benefit of OCT (53):

Probably Beneficial: Determination of optimal stent deployment (sizing, apposition, lack of edge dissection), with improved resolution compared with IVUS.

Possibly Beneficial: OCT can be useful for the assessment of plaque morphology.

No Proven Value/Should be Discouraged: OCT should not be performed to determine stenosis functional significance.

International Working Group for Intravascular Optical Coherence Tomography Standardization and Validation

A consensus report on standardization and validation of techniques and reporting for OCT was published in 2012 by the International Working Group for Intravascular Optical Coherence Tomography Standardization and Validation. (54) This document provided guidance on the following areas that are important to the use of OCT in both research and clinical care:

Equipment needed,

Image acquisition protocols,

Image display techniques,

Reporting standards,

Definition of terms,

Qualitative results,

Quantitative measurements.

Summary of Evidence

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has some advantages over intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) for imaging coronary arteries. It has a higher resolution and provides greater detail for accessible structures compared with IVUS. Case series have demonstrated that OCT can be performed with a high success rate and few complications. Head-to-head comparisons of OCT and IVUS report that OCT picks up additional abnormalities that are not detected by IVUS, implying that OCT is a more sensitive test compared with IVUS.

As an adjunct to percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), OCT may improve on the ability of IVUS to pick up clinically relevant abnormalities, and this may lead to changes in management. RCTs do not report any advantage of OCT over IVUS for achieving optimal stent placement. Several noncomparative studies have been conducted to address whether an OCT-guided treatment strategy involving deferred stenting is feasible. However, no comparative studies have been conducted to demonstrate improved clinical outcomes with such a strategy. Overall, the current evidence is limited in patients who have been evaluated by OCT. Currently, it is not possible to determine the degree of improvement with OCT, or the clinical significance of this improvement. Therefore, the use of OCT as an adjunct to PCI is considered experimental, investigational, and/or unproven.

For the indications of risk stratification of coronary plaques and follow-up of stenting, OCT may also be more accurate than IVUS for imaging of superficial structures. However, the clinical utility of IVUS has not been demonstrated for these indications, because test results do not lead to changes in management that improve outcomes. Therefore, clinical utility has not been demonstrated for OCT for the same reasons. As a result, OCT is considered experimental, investigational, and/or unproven for risk stratification of coronary plaques and for follow-up post stent implantation.

Contract:

Each benefit plan, summary plan description or contract defines which services are covered, which services are excluded, and which services are subject to dollar caps or other limitations, conditions or exclusions. Members and their providers have the responsibility for consulting the member's benefit plan, summary plan description or contract to determine if there are any exclusions or other benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. If there is a discrepancy between a Medical Policy and a member's benefit plan, summary plan description or contract, the benefit plan, summary plan description or contract will govern.

Coding:

CODING:

Disclaimer for coding information on Medical Policies

Procedure and diagnosis codes on Medical Policy documents are included only as a general reference tool for each policy. They may not be all-inclusive.

The presence or absence of procedure, service, supply, device or diagnosis codes in a Medical Policy document has no relevance for determination of benefit coverage for members or reimbursement for providers. Only the written coverage position in a medical policy should be used for such determinations.

Benefit coverage determinations based on written Medical Policy coverage positions must include review of the member’s benefit contract or Summary Plan Description (SPD) for defined coverage vs. non-coverage, benefit exclusions, and benefit limitations such as dollar or duration caps.

CPT/HCPCS/ICD-9/ICD-10 Codes

The following codes may be applicable to this Medical policy and may not be all inclusive.

CPT Codes

92978, 92979, [Deleted 1/2017: 0291T, 0292T]

HCPCS Codes

None

ICD-9 Diagnosis Codes

Refer to the ICD-9-CM manual

ICD-9 Procedure Codes

Refer to the ICD-9-CM manual

ICD-10 Diagnosis Codes

Refer to the ICD-10-CM manual

ICD-10 Procedure Codes

Refer to the ICD-10-CM manual


Medicare Coverage:

The information contained in this section is for informational purposes only. HCSC makes no representation as to the accuracy of this information. It is not to be used for claims adjudication for HCSC Plans.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not have a national Medicare coverage position. Coverage may be subject to local carrier discretion.

A national coverage position for Medicare may have been developed since this medical policy document was written. See Medicare's National Coverage at <http://www.cms.hhs.gov>.

References:

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24. Ali Z, Maehara A, Généreux P, et al. Optical coherence tomography compared with intravascular ultrasound and with angiography to guide coronary stent implantation (ILUMIEN III: OPTIMIZE PCI): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2016 Nov 26; 388(10060):2618-2628. PMID 27806900

25. Smith SC, Jr., Dove JT, Jacobs AK, et al. ACC/AHA guidelines for percutaneous coronary intervention (revision of the 1993 PTCA guidelines)-executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on practice guidelines (Committee to revise the 1993 guidelines for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty) endorsed by the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions. Circulation. 2001; 103(24):3019-41. PMID 11413094

26. Habara M, Nasu K, Terashima M, et al. Impact of frequency-domain optical coherence tomography guidance for optimal coronary stent implantation in comparison with intravascular ultrasound guidance. Circ Cardiovasc Interv. 2012; 5(2):193-201. PMID 22456026

27. Prati F, Di Vito L, Biondi-Zoccai G, et al. Angiography alone versus angiography plus optical coherence tomography to guide decision-making during percutaneous coronary intervention: the Centro per la Lotta contro l'Infarto-Optimisation of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (CLI-OPCI) study. EuroIntervention. 2012; 8(7):823-9. PMID 23034247

28. Yamaguchi T, Terashima M, Akasaka T, et al. Safety and feasibility of an intravascular optical coherence tomography image wire system in the clinical setting. Am J Cardiol. 2008; 101(5):562-7. PMID 18307999

29. Kawamori H, Shite J, Shinke T, et al. The ability of optical coherence tomography to monitor percutaneous coronary intervention: detailed comparison with intravascular ultrasound. J Invasive Cardiol. 2010; 22(11):541-5. PMID 21041851

30. Bezerra HG, Attizzani GF, Sirbu V, et al. Optical coherence tomography versus intravascular ultrasound to evaluate coronary artery disease and percutaneous coronary intervention. JACC Cardiovasc Interv. 2013; 6(3):228-36. PMID 23517833

31. Sohn J, Hur SH, Kim IC, et al. A comparison of tissue prolapse with optical coherence tomography and intravascular ultrasound after drug-eluting stent implantation. Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. Oct 2 2014. PMID 25273918

32. Sugiyama T, Kimura S, Akiyama D, et al. Quantitative assessment of tissue prolapse on optical coherence tomography and its relation to underlying plaque morphologies and clinical outcome in patients with elective stent implantation. Int J Cardiol. Sep 2014; 176(1):182-190. PMID 25042663

33. Ann SH, Lim KH, De Jin C, et al. Multi-modality imaging for stent edge assessment. Heart Vessels. Jan 31 2014. PMID 24481539

34. Souteyrand G, Amabile N, Combaret N, et al. Invasive management without stents in selected acute coronary syndrome patients with a large thrombus burden: a prospective study of optical coherence tomography guided treatment decisions. EuroIntervention. Jul 19 2014. PMID 25033106

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36. Radu MD, Raber L, Heo J, et al. Natural history of optical coherence tomography-detected non-flow-limiting edge dissections following drug-eluting stent implantation. EuroIntervention. Jan 22 2014; 9(9):1085-1094. PMID 24064426

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44. Hong M. Randomized Controlled Study of the Traditional Percutaneous Coronary Intervention and Intervention Using Optical Coherence Tomography of Incomplete Stent Adhesion and Extent of the Formation of Neointima by Resolute Zotarolimus-eluting Stent Insertion. In: ClinicalTrials.gov [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US). Available at <https://clinicaltrials.gov> NCT01869842. (accessed August 23, 2017)

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48. Hong M. DETErmination of the Duration of the Dual Antiplatelet Therapy by the Degree of the Coverage of The Struts on Optical Coherence Tomography From the Randomized Comparison Between Everolimus-eluting Stents (EES) Versus Biolimus A9-eluting Stents(BES) (DETECT-OCT). In: National Library of Medicine (US). Available at <https://clinicaltrials.gov> NCT01752894. (accessed August 23, 2017)

49. Bolognese, L. Dissecting the Role of Distal Embolization of Athero-thrombotic Material in Primary PCI: the ThrombOticBurden and mIcrovAscularobStruction (TOBIAS) Study. In: National Library of Medicine (US). Available at <https://clinicaltrials.gov> NCT01914055. (accessed August 23, 2017)

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53. Lotfi A, Jeremias A, Fearon WF, et al. Expert consensus statement on the use of fractional flow reserve, intravascular ultrasound, and optical coherence tomography: a consensus statement of the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. Mar 1 2014; 83(4):509-518. PMID 24227282

54. Tearney GJ, Regar E, Akasaka T, et al. Consensus standards for acquisition, measurement, and reporting of intravascular optical coherence tomography studies: a report from the International Working Group for Intravascular Optical Coherence Tomography Standardization and Validation. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012; 59(12): 1058-72. PMID 22421299

55. Optical Coherence Tomography for Imaging of Coronary Arteries BCBSA - Archived. Chicago, Illinois: Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Medical Policy Reference Manual (2015 February -) Medicine 2.02.29.

Policy History:

DateReason
10/1/2018 Reviewed. No changes.
1/15/2018 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged.
11/1/2016 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged.
5/15/2015 Reviewed. No changes.
6/15/2014 Document updated with literature review. Coverage unchanged. CPT/HCPCS code(s) updated.
1/1/2012 New medical document. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is considered experimental, investigational and unproven for imaging of coronary arteries, including but not limited to as an adjunct to percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) with stenting; risk stratification of intracoronary atherosclerotic plaques; or follow-up of stenting.

Archived Document(s):

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