Practical tips and tricks in cardiovascular computed tomography: non-contrast "heartscans"--beyond the calcium score

J Cardiovasc Comput Tomogr. 2009 Jan-Feb;3(1):52-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jcct.2008.11.002. Epub 2008 Nov 21.


The Agatston total coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, derived from a non-contrast CT scan of the heart (also known as the "heartscan") in asymptomatic and symptomatic patients, has been shown to provide incremental and independent assessment to conventional risk factors based upon literally hundreds of studies published from around the world. However, recent data have emerged to indicate that there is additional information which can be derived from a "heartscan" beyond the calcium score. These include recent data on the applicability across ethnic sub-groups, prognostication in the elderly, defining "heart age" versus chronological age for individual risk stratification, evaluating CAC distribution in addition to total CAC score, and looking beyond the coronary arteries regarding left ventricular size, aortic root/thoracic aorta diameter, and epicardial fat.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Angiography / methods*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*