Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in developed countries. According to a Center for Disease Control report, one out of four deaths is attributed to coronary artery disease. It costs the United States human lives, productivity, and more than 100 billion dollars each year. Due to increased incidence in both men and women and all ethnicities, risk stratification of patients at risk for developing myocardial infarction and death is of paramount importance. Various tests are available for diagnosis and prognosis in coronary heart disease such as exercise treadmill testing, coronary calcium scoring, dobutamine stress echocardiography, exercise, dipyridamole, adenosine or dobutamine stress nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), and dobutamine or adenosine stress cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Since 2008 a new vasodilator, regadenoson (REG), has become available and is now widely used for nuclear perfusion imaging. Pharmacologic stress testing challenges the coronary flow reserve to evaluate the hyperemic capacity of the heart, which can be impaired in significant epicardial stenosis or microvascular dysfunction. In the presence of either of these conditions, ischemia induced by hyperemia manifests as wall motion abnormalities on echocardiography or as perfusion defects in nuclear perfusion imaging.
Part of the book: Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary cardiac computed tomography (CCTA) has seen rapid improvements in technology including hardware and postprocessing techniques that have contributed to its rapid growth and enabled it to remain in the forefront on diagnostic imaging. Important technological advances include wider detectors for greater coverage with less gantry rotation times, dual-source computed tomography (CT) with improved temporal resolution, dual-energy CT where simultaneous imaging at different energies to increase the contrast difference between different tissues enhances diagnostic accuracy, and emergence of spectral CT to enhance atherosclerotic imaging through nanoparticle technology. Software advances include iterative reconstruction methodologies to reduce noise and radiation doses, plaque imaging and quantification tools to assess plaque morphology and stenosis severity. Processing advances using computational fluid dynamics now enables the determination of fractional flow reserve (FFR). Another important advancement in CCTA physiologic imaging is CCTA perfusion imaging to detect ischemia and compares favorably with myocardial perfusion imaging and coronary angiographic stenosis. Finally, large registry studies and single-center studies have now been published assessing the incremental value of coronary calcium score, CT plaque severity of disease and have demonstrated that the CCTA carries strong prognostic value over and above traditional risk assessment in predicting adverse outcomes.
Part of the book: Computed Tomography