Triple-rule-out CT angiography for evaluation of acute chest pain and possible acute coronary syndrome

Ethan J Halpern
Radiology 2009, 252 (2): 332-45
Triple-rule-out (TRO) computed tomographic (CT) angiography can provide a cost-effective evaluation of the coronary arteries, aorta, pulmonary arteries, and adjacent intrathoracic structures for the patient with acute chest pain. TRO CT is most appropriate for the patient who is judged to be at low to intermediate risk for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and whose symptoms may also be attributed to acute pathologic conditions of the aorta or pulmonary arteries. Although a regular cardiac rhythm remains an important factor in coronary CT image quality, newer CT scanners with 64 or more detector rows afford rapid electrocardiographically (ECG) gated imaging to provide high-quality TRO CT studies in patients with a heart rate of up to 80 beats per minute. Injection of iodinated contrast material (< or = 100 mL) is tailored to provide simultaneous high levels of arterial enhancement in the coronary arteries and aorta (> 300 HU) and in the pulmonary arteries (> 200 HU). To limit radiation exposure, the TRO CT examination does not include the entire chest but is constrained to incorporate the aortic arch down through the heart. Scanning parameters, including prospective ECG tube current modulation and prospective ECG gating with the "step-and-shoot" technique, are tailored to reduce radiation exposure (optimally, 5-9 mSv). When performed with appropriate attention to timing and technique, TRO CT provides coronary image quality equal to that of dedicated coronary CT angiography and pulmonary arterial images that are free of motion artifact related to cardiac pulsation. In an appropriately selected emergency department patient population, TRO CT can safely eliminate the need for further diagnostic testing in over 75% of patients.


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