Since optical coherence tomography (OCT) was first performed in humans two decades ago, this imaging modality has been widely adopted in research on coronary atherosclerosis and adopted clinically for the optimization of percutaneous coronary intervention. In the past 10 years, substantial advances have been made in the understanding of in vivo vascular biology using OCT. Identification by OCT of culprit plaque pathology could potentially lead to a major shift in the management of patients with acute coronary syndromes. Detection by OCT of healed coronary plaque has been important in our understanding of the mechanisms involved in plaque destabilization and healing with the rapid progression of atherosclerosis. Accurate detection by OCT of sequelae from percutaneous coronary interventions that might be missed by angiography could improve clinical outcomes. In addition, OCT has become an essential diagnostic modality for myocardial infarction with non-obstructive coronary arteries. Insight into neoatherosclerosis from OCT could improve our understanding of the mechanisms of very late stent thrombosis. The appropriate use of OCT depends on accurate interpretation and understanding of the clinical significance of OCT findings. In this Review, we summarize the state of the art in cardiac OCT and facilitate the uniform use of this modality in coronary atherosclerosis. Contributions have been made by clinicians and investigators worldwide with extensive experience in OCT, with the aim that this document will serve as a standard reference for future research and clinical application.
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