16-MDCT shows promise in detecting coronary artery atherosclerosis

16-MDCT is showing promise in detecting coronary artery atherosclerosis and could, in the near future, serve as an alternative to electron beam CT, a technique that is effective but not widely available, a new study shows.

The study of 100 patients at Hiroshima University in Japan found that 16-MDCT and electron beam CT were almost equivalent in detecting coronary artery calcifications and coronary artery calcium scoring. Calcium scoring is the “quantification of total calcium burden in the coronary artery,” said Jun Horiguchi, MD, of the Hiroshima University School of Medicine. The score is expected to predict the patient’s risk for a heart attack, and can be used to track the progression or regression of coronary atherosclerosis, he said.

All patients in the study underwent both an electron beam CT examination and a 16-MDCT examination. 16-MDCT had a sensitivity of 98.7% and a specificity of 100%, Dr. Horiguchi said. The variability of calcium scores between the electron beam and MDCT scanners was comparable to earlier reports that had compared electron beam scanners to electron beam scanners, he added.

There are several advantages of 16-MDCT, said Dr. Horiguchi. It is more widely available; it provides thinner slice images and offers overlapping image reconstruction if needed, he said. In addition, patients do not have to hold their breath for as long during a 16-MDCT scan compared to an electron beam CT scan. A disadvantage of MDCT is there is relatively high radiation exposure to the patient, he said.

Electron beam CT is currently the gold standard for detecting and quantifying coronary artery calcifications, said Dr. Horiguchi. “However, we believe that 16 MDCT can be used for coronary artery calcium studies in the near future. Before that can happen, studies assessing interscan variability of 16-MDCT (MDCT scanners and MDCT scanners) must be done,” he said. The study was published in the July issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

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