JoVE Logo
Faculty Resource Center

Sign In





Representative Results






Intracoronary Acetylcholine Provocation Testing for Assessment of Coronary Vasomotor Disorders

Published: August 18th, 2016



1Department of Cardiology, Robert-Bosch-Krankenhaus

Intracoronary acetylcholine testing has been established for the assessment of epicardial coronary spasm more than 30 years ago. Recently, the focus has shifted towards the microcirculation and it has been shown that microvascular spasm can be detected using ACH-testing. This article describes the ACH-test and its implementation in daily routine.

Intracoronary acetylcholine provocation testing (ACH-test) is an established method for assessment of epicardial coronary artery spasm in the catheterization laboratory which was introduced more than 30 years ago. Due to the short half-life of acetylcholine it can only be applied directly into the coronary arteries. Several studies have demonstrated the safety and clinical usefulness of this test. However, acetylcholine testing is only rarely applied in the U.S. or Europe. Nevertheless, it has been shown that 62% of Caucasian patients with stable angina and unobstructed coronary arteries on coronary angiography suffer from coronary vasomotor disorders that can be diagnosed with acetylcholine testing. In recent years it has been appreciated that the ACH-test not only assesses the presence of epicardial spasm but that it can also be useful for the detection of coronary microvascular spam. In such cases no epicardial spasm is seen after injection of acetylcholine but ischemic ECG shifts are present together with a reproduction of the patient's symptoms during the test. This article describes the experience with the ACH-test and its implementation in daily clinical routine.

Angina pectoris is the hallmark of coronary artery disease and the concept of an epicardial stenosis causing myocardial ischemia and exercise-induced angina has been established for many years. However, many patients with angina pectoris do not have the typical triad of retrosternal pain, onset during exercise and relief by nitroglycerine or rest. Frequently patients report angina pectoris at rest or a combination of exertional and resting angina as well as shortness of breath upon exertion as a possible angina equivalent. In 1959 Prinzmetal was the first to introduce the concept of transient spasm of the coronary arteries causing angina at rest associated with ST-seg....

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

NOTE: Intracoronary acetylcholine testing has been approved by the local ethics committee and the protocol follows the guidelines of our institution for human research.

1. Preparation of the Acetylcholine Solutions (See Materials Table)

  1. Mix the 20 mg acetylcholine with the 2 ml solvent provided with the package.
  2. Add the 2 ml ACH solution to 98 ml of NaCl 0.9 %. This corresponds to a dose of 0.2 mg/ml and is called stock solution 1. Add 9 ml of stock solution 1 to 91 ml of.......

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

Interpretation of the acetylcholine test is based on three criteria. First, the patient is asked throughout the test whether or not symptoms occur. Frequently, patients report a reproduction of their usual symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or other symptoms. This represents an important point for the overall interpretation of the test. Second, a 12-lead-ECG registration is continuously performed throughout the test with a special emphasis on ischemic ECG shifts such as ST-s.......

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

It is feasible to implement the acetylcholine test in daily clinical routine in the catheterisation laboratory. Apart from the preparation of the ACH solutions there are several technical issues that have to be resolved before starting the test including radiolucent ECG leads for continuous 12-lead ECG registration. This is essential to be able to detect transient ischemic ECG changes during the test. Moreover, it is important to know that the ACH solutions can only be used for 2 hr. After that they should be newly prepa.......

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

This project is supported in part by grant KKF-15-1.


Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Vial of 20 mg acetylcholine chloride powder and 1 Ampoule of 2 mL diluent Bausch & Lomb  NDC 24 208-539-20
3 x 100 ml NaCl 0.9 % BBraun 3200950
3 x syringe 50 ml each BBraun 4187903
 1 x 2 ml syringe BBraun 4606027V
 1 x 10 ml syringe BBraun 4606108V
2 x cannula 20 G 70mm BBraun 4665791
 5 x 5 ml syringe BBraun 4606051V
Contrast agent Imeron 350 with a 10ml syringe for contrast injection Bracco Imaging 30699.03.00
Coronary angiography suite (AXIOM Artis MP eco ) Siemens n/a

  1. Prinzmetal, M., Kennamer, R., Merliss, R., Wada, T., Bor, N. Angina pectoris. I. A variant form of angina pectoris; preliminary report. Am J Med. 27, 375-388 (1959).
  2. Cheng, T. O., Bashour, T., Kelser, G. A., Weiss, L., Bacos, J. Variant angina of Prinzmetal with normal coronary arteriograms. A variant of the variant. Circulation. 47 (3), 476-485 (1973).
  3. Yasue, H., et al. Induction of coronary artery spasm by acetylcholine in patients with variant angina: possible role of the parasympathetic nervous system in the pathogenesis of coronary artery spasm. Circulation. 74 (5), 955-963 (1986).
  4. Bell, M. R., Berger, P. B., Holmes, D. R., Mullany, C. J., Bailey, K. R., Gersh, B. J. Referral for coronary artery revascularization procedures after diagnostic coronary angiography: evidence for gender bias?. J Am Coll Cardiol. 25 (7), 1650-1655 (1995).
  5. Patel, M. R., et al. Low diagnostic yield of elective coronary angiography. N Engl J Med. 362 (10), 885-895 (2010).
  6. Pocock, S. J., Henderson, R. A., Seed, P., Treasure, T., Hampton, J. R. Quality of life, employment status, and anginal symptoms after coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery. 3-year follow-up in the Randomized Intervention Treatment of Angina. Circulation. 94 (2), 135-142 (1996).
  7. Ong, P., Athanasiadis, A., Borgulya, G., Mahrholdt, H., Kaski, J. C., Sechtem, U. High prevalence of a pathological response to acetylcholine testing in patients with stable angina pectoris and unobstructed coronary arteries. The ACOVA Study (Abnormal COronary VAsomotion in patients with stable angina and unobstructed coronary arteries). J Am Coll Cardiol. 59 (7), 655-662 (2012).
  8. Furchgott, R. F., Zawadzki, J. V. The obligatory role of endothelial cells in the relaxation of arterial smooth muscle by acetylcholine. Nature. 288 (5789), 373-376 (1980).
  9. Shimizu, H., Lee, J. D., Ogawa, K., Hara, A., Nakamura, T. Coronary artery vasoreactivity to intracoronary acetylcholine infusion test in patients with chest pain syndrome. Intern Med. 31 (1), 22-27 (1992).
  10. Montalescot, G., et al. 2013 ESC guidelines on the management of stable coronary artery disease: the Task Force on the management of stable coronary artery disease of the European Society of Cardiology. Eur Heart J. 34 (38), 2949-3003 (2013).
  11. JCS Joint Working Group. Guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of patients with vasospastic angina (Coronary Spastic Angina) (JCS 2013). Circ J. 78 (11), 2779-2801 (2014).
  12. Ong, P., Athanasiadis, A., Sechtem, U. Patterns of coronary vasomotor responses to intracoronary acetylcholine provocation. Heart. 99 (17), 1288-1295 (2013).
  13. Seldinger, S. I. Catheter replacement of the needle in percutaneous arteriography; a new technique. Acta radiol. 39 (5), 368-376 (1953).
  14. Judkins, M. P. Selective coronary arteriography. I. A percutaneous transfemoral technic. Radiology. 89 (5), 815-824 (1967).
  15. Mohri, M., et al. Angina pectoris caused by coronary microvascular spasm. Lancet. 351 (9110), 1165-1169 (1998).
  16. Chandrasekar, B., et al. Complications of cardiac catheterization in the current era: a single-center experience. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 52, 289-295 (2001).
  17. Nakao, K., et al. Hyperventilation as a specific test for diagnosis of coronary artery spasm. Am J Cardiol. 80 (5), 545-549 (1997).

This article has been published

Video Coming Soon

JoVE Logo


Terms of Use





Copyright © 2024 MyJoVE Corporation. All rights reserved