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Original Investigation
January 2, 2019

Contemporary Use and Trends in Unprotected Left Main Coronary Artery Percutaneous Coronary Intervention in the United States: An Analysis of the National Cardiovascular Data Registry Research to Practice Initiative

Author Affiliations
  • 1Rocky Mountain Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Aurora, Colorado
  • 2University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora
  • 3Richard and Susan Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  • 5Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • 6Saint Luke’s Health System, Kansas City, Missouri
JAMA Cardiol. 2019;4(2):100-109. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2018.4376
Key Points

Question  Does management of unprotected left main coronary artery stenoses in contemporary clinical practice reflect that reported in clinical trials?

Findings  In this analysis of National Cardiovascular Data Registry CathPCI Registry data including 3.3 million patients, unprotected left main percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) represented less than 1% of all PCI in clinical practice and was characterized by low operator and institutional volumes, older and more comorbid patients than trial populations, and a higher frequency of adverse events.

Meaning  Trials of unprotected left main PCI do not reflect contemporary practice, although it is possible that case selection and procedural inexperience influence the observed discrepancies; further study is needed to determine if case selection refinement and increasing experience may improve outcomes.


Importance  Recent data support percutaneous revascularization as an alternative to coronary artery bypass grafting in unprotected left main (ULM) coronary lesions. However, the relevance of these trials to current practice is unclear, as patterns and outcomes of ULM percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in contemporary US clinical practice are not well studied.

Objective  To define the current practice of ULM PCI and its outcomes and compare these with findings reported in clinical trials.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional multicenter analysis included data collected from 1662 institutions participating in the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) CathPCI Registry between April 2009 and July 2016. Data were collected from 33 128 patients undergoing ULM PCI and 3 309 034 patients undergoing all other PCI. Data were analyzed from June 2017 to May 2018.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Patient and procedural characteristics and their temporal trends were compared between ULM PCI and all other PCI. In-hospital major adverse clinical events (ie, death, myocardial infarction, stroke, and emergent coronary artery bypass grafting) were compared using hierarchical logistic regression. Characteristics and outcomes were also compared against clinical trial cohorts.

Results  Of the 3 342 162 included patients, 2 223 570 (66.5%) were male, and the mean (SD) age was 64.2 (12.1) years. Unprotected left main PCI represented 1.0% (33 128 of 3 342 162) of all procedures, modestly increasing from 0.7% to 1.3% over time. The mean (SD) annualized ULM PCI volume was 0.5 (1.5) procedures for operators and 3.2 (6.1) procedures for facilities, with only 1808 of 10 971 operators (16.5%) and 892 of 1662 facilities (53.7%) performing an average of 1 or more ULM PCI annually. After adjustment, major adverse clinical events occurred more frequently with ULM PCI compared with all other PCI (odds ratio, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.39-1.53). Compared with clinical trial populations, patients in the CathPCI Registry were older with more comorbid conditions, and adverse events were more frequent.

Conclusions and Relevance  Use of ULM PCI has increased over time, but overall use remains low. These findings suggest that ULM PCI occurs infrequently in the United States and in an older and more comorbid population than that seen in clinical trials.