Coronary plaque imaging and characterization by CT

Current Cardiovascular Imaging Reports 11/2008; 1(2):112-118. DOI: 10.1007/s12410-008-0017-y


Multi-slice spiral CT (MDCT) is a noninvasive modality for visualization and evaluation of atherosclerosis in vivo in different
arterial beds. Rapid technical advances led to a significant improvement of the diagnostic accuracy of coronary MDCT angiography.
The most popular clinical application of MDCT with the best scientific evidence is the noninvasive detection and quantification
of coronary calcifications. In particular, the concept of coronary age by evaluating an individual’s biological age (rather
than chronological age) is attractive and currently under scientific evaluation. Additionally, when evaluating contrast-enhanced
coronary arteries, different stages of atherosclerosis can be visualized. It could be shown by comparative studies with intracoronary
ultrasound that echogenicity corresponds well with the density measured within atherosclerotic plaques expressed in Hounsfield
units using MDCT. Continuously improving and still under development, the potential of MDCT to evaluate plaque composition
and plaque volumes noninvasively in vivo is promising.

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