[The clinical value of computer tomography (CT) of diagnostics of acute thorax pain—a literature review]

Piotr Klimeczek, Urszula Zaleska-Dorobisz, Jacek Jagas, Tomasz Harań
Przegla̧d Lekarski 2013, 70 (3): 123-7
Conventional angiography of the coronary arteries is a standard in heart and coronary arteries diagnosis, sufficient to choose a treatment method. The introduction of 64-row multidetector computed tomography improved the imaging of coronary arteries by increasing its spatial and temporal resolution. It has been shown that the potential clinical value of CT angiography, including dual source computed tomography (DSCT), is based particularly on the exclusion of coronary artery disease and is now a recognized clinical indication in patients with equivocal stress test results. Detection of hemodynamically insignificant atherosclerotic plaques during CT angiography may be important from the clinical point of view. Rupture of those plaques is the reason of about 60% of acute coronary events. Myocardial infarction with ST-segment elevation is not an indication for CT angiography of the coronary arteries. Acute chest pain is the cause of approximately 6-8% of hospitalizations in the EU and the United States. According to the U.S. data about 50% of patients are admitted to a hospital for observation, and of those only 15% are finally diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome. On the other hand 2-5% of patients are incorrectly diagnosed and discharged home despite the occurrence of ACS. In spite of relatively frequent and easy to recognize symptoms, the subject literature states that diagnosis of more than 1/3 of patients with acute chest pain poses a considerable difficulty in the A&E departments. Problems with proper risk assessment and diagnosis of the disease result in unnecessary hospital admissions, implementation of expensive and often invasive diagnostic methods and generating costs borne by the health care system. There is a need to optimize the minimally invasive diagnostic methods, that allow reliable exclusion of coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndrome. In approximately 10 to 20% of all patients with chest pain neither ST segment elevation nor positive results of enzymatic tests are found, those are patients with low or intermediate risk of acute coronary syndrome. Currently, the most widely used diagnostic method in these patients is a stress test and other diagnostic tests. Coronary angiography and stress tests enable the detection of atherosclerotic lesions, which significantly narrow the artery lumen and reduce the myocardial perfusion. There is therefore the demand for a reliable and minimally invasive imaging method for assessing coronary arteries, which will enable excluding critical coronary artery stenosis or isolating, from a group of medium and low risk patients assessed with routine tests, those who should undergo immediate angiography and invasive treatment. CT angiography allows to assess the severity of coronary atherosclerosis. The possibility of vascular wall and plaque morphology evaluation may have a significant impact on the detection of atherosclerotic lesions of vulnerable character. CT angiography has already been used for the noninvasive assessment of plaque morphology in comparison with the standard, i.e. intracoronary ultrasound-ICUS. Intracoronary ultrasound is the most accurate method for the evaluation of stenosis and plaque morphology, but high costs and invasiveness limit its application. It is necessary to assess the extent to which the multidetector dual source computed tomography may be an alternative for the intracoronary ultrasound (ICUS). Recent years brought about extensive tests of a CT angiography diagnostic algorithm originally called "triple rule-out" (Scheme 1). This method refers to the population of patients without a definitive diagnosis after routine diagnostic tests. It is applied mainly to acute conditions with which a patient reports to the A&E department: myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, aortic dissecting aneurysm as well as changes in the chest and ascending aorta and pulmonary arteries. The authors of this paper deem it necessary to conduct further clinical trials on the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of CT angiography in different patient groups.


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