The role of noninvasive imaging in coronary artery disease detection, prognosis, and clinical decision making

Can J Cardiol. 2013 Mar;29(3):285-96. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2012.10.022. Epub 2013 Jan 26.


A vast array of noninvasive imaging modalities is available for the evaluation of the presence and severity of coronary artery disease (CAD). Choosing the right test can be challenging but is critical for proper patient diagnosis and management. Presently available imaging tests for CAD include: (1) nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging procedures (single-photon emission tomography) and positron emission tomography, (2) stress echocardiography, (3) computed tomography coronary angiography, and (4) cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Exercise treadmill testing electrocardiography is another alternative that we will discuss briefly. Selection of the most appropriate imaging modality requires knowledge of the clinical question being addressed, patient characteristics (pretest probability and prevalence of disease), the strengths, limitations, risks, costs, and availability of each procedure. To assist with test selection, we review the relevant literature in detail to consider the relative merits of cardiac imaging modalities for: (1) detection of CAD, (2) risk stratification and prognostication, and (3) guiding clinical decision making.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cardiac Imaging Techniques
  • Coronary Angiography / methods
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Echocardiography, Stress / methods
  • Electrocardiography
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Patient Selection
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods