ECG-triggered high-pitch CT for simultaneous assessment of the aorta and coronary arteries

Anne-Lise Hachulla, Maxime Ronot, Stéphane Noble, Christoph D Becker, Xavier Montet, Jean-Paul Vallée
Journal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography 2016, 10 (5): 407-13

OBJECTIVES: To study the image quality of ECG-gated-computed tomography (CT) acquisition with a high-pitch CT imaging for the exploration of both the aorta and coronary arteries.

METHODS: Eighty-four patients underwent high-pitch ECG-gated aortic CT without β-blockers with iterative reconstruction algorithms. Contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) between vessels and adjacent perivascular fat tissue were calculated on the aorta and the coronary arteries. Dose-length-products (DLP) were recorded. Two blinded readers graded image quality of the aorta and the coronary arteries on a 3-point scale. Coronary artery stenoses were compared with coronary angiograms in 24 patients. Kappa values were calculated.

RESULTS: High-pitch acquisition resulted in a mean DLP of 234 ± 93 mGy cm(4.2 mSv) for an acquisition of the entire aorta, (mean 73 ± 16 bpm). CNR for ascending aorta was 10.6 ± 4 and CNR for coronary arteries was 9.85 ± 4.1. Image quality was excellent in 79/84 patients (94%), and excellent or moderate but diagnostic in 1087/1127 coronary artery segments (96%). 74 significant stenoses were observed, and 38/40 significant stenoses were confirmed by coronary angiography (K = 0.91, Sensitivity = 0.97, Specificity = 0.98).

CONCLUSION: High-pitch ECG-gated aortic CT with iterative reconstructions allows an accurate exploration of both aorta and coronary arteries during the same acquisition, with limited dose deposition, despite the lack of β-blockers and relatively high heart rate. Radiologists need to be aware of the necessity to analyze and report coronary artery disease in aortic examination.

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