A Case Report of Cocaine Abuse, Acute Coronary Syndrome, and Eroded Plaque: Stent or not Stent?


Intracoronary imaging techniques have allowed characterizing atherosclerotic plaques morphologically in patients with the acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Although the main feature described is plaque rupture, the use of optical coherence tomography has made it possible to objectify that the eroded plaque is not uncommon in this setting

Case summary:

We presented a case of a 45-year-old man with active smoking and cocaine user, admitted to the emergency de-partment for chest pain. The electrocardiogram showed ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) in the inferior leads. Emergent coronary angiography was performed, showing thrombotic occlusion of mid-distal right coronary artery. After successful thromboaspiration, no areas of significant angiographic stenosis were observed. Optical coherence tomography imaging at the occlusion site revealed an eroded plaque and a remaining small thrombusburden. Conservative management without stent implantation was decided. Treatments consisted of an acute phase glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor and subsequently dual antiplatelet therapy with Aspirin (ASA) and Ticagrelor 90 mg b.i.d. for 12 months. The patient remains asymptomatic and uneventful at 9-month follow-up


Young age, history of active smoking, and cocaine use are common clinical features in patients with ACS due to an eroded plaque. These patients frequently display a STEMI with the involvement of a single coronary vessel. Optical coherence tomography imaging aids to a precise diagnosis and to define a proper treatment.


Acute coronary syndrome • Plaque erosion • Optical coherence tomography • ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction • Case report

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