Noncalcified atherosclerotic lesions with vulnerable characteristics detected by coronary CT angiography and future coronary events

J Cardiovasc Comput Tomogr. May-Jun 2013;7(3):192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcct.2013.05.008. Epub 2013 Jun 13.


Background: The ability of coronary CT angiography (CTA) findings such as plaque characteristics to predict future coronary events remains controversial.

Objective: We investigated whether noncalcified atherosclerotic lesions (NCALs) detected by coronary CTA were predictive of future coronary events.

Methods: A total of 511 patients who underwent coronary CTA were followed for cardiovascular events over a period of 3.3 ± 1.2 years. The primary end point was defined as hard events, including cardiac death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or unstable angina that required urgent hospitalization. Early elective coronary revascularizations (n = 58) were excluded. The relationship between features of NCALs and outcomes is described.

Results: A total of 15 hard events (2 cardiac deaths, 7 myocardial infarctions, 6 cases of unstable angina that required urgent hospitalization) were documented in the remaining 453 patients with modest risks during a follow-up period of 3.3 ± 1.2 years. For these hard events, a univariate Cox proportional hazard model showed that the hazard ratio for the presence of >50% stenosis was 7.27 (95% CI, 2.62-21.7; P = .0002). Although the presence of NCAL by itself was not statistically significant, NCALs with low attenuation and positive remodeling (low-attenuation plaque [LAP] and positive remodeling [PR]; plaque CT number ≤ 34 HU and remodeling index ≥ 1.20) showed an adjusted hazard ratio of 11.2 (95% CI, 3.71-36.7; P < .0001). With C-statistics analysis, when both LAP and PR and >50% stenosis were added, the C-statistic was significantly improved compared with the basal model adjusted for age, sex, and log2 (Agatston score +1) (0.900 vs 0.704; P = .0018).

Conclusions: Identification of NCALs with LAP and PR characteristics by coronary CTA provides additional prognostic information to coronary stenosis for the prediction of future coronary events.

Keywords: Coronary CT angiography; Low-attenuation plaque; Noncalcified atherosclerotic lesion; Positive remodeling; Prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Angiography / methods*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*