Current clinical applications and potential perspective of micro-computed tomography in cardiovascular imaging: A systematic scoping review

Andreas S Papazoglou, Efstratios Karagiannidis, Dimitrios V Moysidis, Georgios Sofidis, Andreana Bompoti, Nikolaos Stalikas, Eleftherios Panteris, Christos Arvanitidis, Markus D Herrman, James S Michaelson, Georgios Sianos
Hellenic Journal of Cardiology: HJC 2021 May 12

BACKGROUND: Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) constitutes an emerging imaging technique, which can be utilized in cardiovascular medicine to study in-detail the microstructure of heart and vessels. This paper aims to systematically review the clinical utility of micro-CT in cardiovascular imaging and propose future applications of micro-CT imaging in cardiovascular research.

METHODS: A systematic scoping review was conducted by searching for original studies written in English according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) extension for scoping reviews. Medline, Scopus,, and the Cochrane library were systematically searched through December 11, 2020 to identify publications concerning micro-CT applications in cardiovascular imaging. Preclinical-animal studies and case reports were excluded. The Newcastle-Ottawa assessment scale for observational studies was used to evaluate study quality.

RESULTS: In total, the search strategy identified 30 studies that report on micro-CT-based cardiovascular imaging and satisfy our eligibility criteria. Across all included studies, the total number of micro-CT scanned specimens was 1,227. Six studies involved postmortem 3D-reconstruction of congenital heart defects, while eleven studies described atherosclerotic vessel (coronary or carotid) characteristics. Thirteen other studies employed micro-CT for the assessment of medical devices (mainly stents or prosthetic valves).

CONCLUSION: Micro-CT is a novel imaging modality, effectively adapted for the 3D visualization and analysis of cardiac soft tissues and devices at high spatial resolution. Its increasing use could make significant contributions to our improved understanding of the histopathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases, and thus has the potential to optimize interventional procedures and technologies and improving patient outcomes.

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