Noninvasive detection and evaluation of atherosclerotic coronary plaques with multislice computed tomography

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Apr;37(5):1430-5. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(01)01115-9.


Objectives: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the accuracy in determining coronary lesion configuration by multislice computed tomography (MSCT). The results were compared with the findings of intracoronary ultrasound (ICUS).

Background: The risk of acute coronary syndromes caused by plaque disruption and thrombosis depends on plaque composition rather than stenosis severity. Thus, the reliable noninvasive assessment of plaque configuration would constitute an important step forward for risk stratification in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease. Just recently, MSCT scanners became available for general purpose scanning. Due to improved spatial and temporal resolution, this new technology holds promise to allow for differentiation of coronary lesion configuration.

Methods: The ICUS and MSCT scans (Somatom Volume Zoom, Siemens, Forchheim, Germany) were performed in 15 patients. Plaque composition was analyzed according to ICUS (plaque echogenity: soft, intermediate, calcified) and MSCT criteria (plaque density expressed by Hounsfield units [HU]).

Results: Thirty-four plaques were analyzed. With ICUS, the plaques were classified as soft (n = 12), intermediate (n = 5) and calcified (n = 17). Using MSCT, soft plaques had a density of 14 +/- 26 HU (range -42 to +47 HU), intermediate plaques of 91 +/- 21 HU (61 to 112 HU) and calcified plaques of 419 +/- 194 HU (126 to 736 HU). Nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis test revealed a significant difference of plaque density among the three groups (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Our results indicate that coronary lesion configuration might be correctly differentiated by MSCT. Since also rupture-prone soft plaques can be detected by MSCT, this noninvasive method might become an important diagnostic tool for risk stratification in the near future.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / diagnostic imaging
  • Angina Pectoris / therapy
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcinosis / therapy
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional