Coronary dual source multi detector computed tomography in patients suspected of coronary artery disease: prevalence of incidental extra-cardiac findings

Eur J Radiol. 2011 Oct;80(1):109-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2010.05.024. Epub 2010 Jul 31.


Objectives: (1) To establish the prevalence of incidental extra-cardiac findings (ECFs) in coronary multi detector computed tomography (CCT) performed in a large, homogeneous cohort of patients suspected of coronary artery disease (CAD). (2) To examine whether any association can be established between ECFs and pretest risk as determined by conventional risk factors for CAD, the Diamond-Forrester risk model or coronary artery calcium scores. (3) To assess cost related to extra-cardiac examinations.

Design: Retrospective study of consecutive patients who had CCT performed. A large field of view was recreated from the non-enhanced CT scan and evaluated by a radiologist for incidental ECFs.

Subjects: Patients with chest pain referred to CTA by a cardiologist.

Results: In 1383 patients a total of 481 ECFs were indentified, 378 minor (meaning no follow-up was needed) and 103 major ECFs (ECF followed up clinically and/or with additional imaging), in a total of 393 (28%) patients. 85 (6%) patients had one major ECF and 9 (0.7%) patients had two major ECFs. In 19 (4 cases of malignancy) patients the major ECF had therapeutic consequences. Significant positive associations were found between age and smoking, respectively and the presence of ECFs. The cost estimate of saving one life from malignant disease based on ECF examinations is 40,190€.

Conclusion: Incidental extra-cardiac findings are common, sometimes revealing serious, even malignant disease. Diagnostic follow-up of major ECFs seems to be cost-effective in a Danish clinical setting. We recommend investigating a large field of view for incidental ECFs following CCT.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography*
  • Radiography, Abdominal
  • Risk Factors
  • Thoracic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*