Background: Coronary CTA allows characterization of non-calcified and calcified plaque and identification of high-risk plaque features.
Objective: We aimed to quantitatively characterize and compare coronary plaque burden from CTA in patients with a first acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and controls with stable coronary artery disease.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively analyzed consecutive patients with non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) or unstable angina with a first ACS, who underwent CTA as part of their initial workup before invasive coronary angiography and age- and gender-matched controls with stable chest pain; controls also underwent CTA with subsequent invasive angiography (total n = 28). Culprit arteries were identified in ACS patients. Coronary arteries were analyzed by automated software to quantify calcified plaque (CP), noncalcified plaque (NCP), and low-density NCP (LD-NCP, attenuation <30 Hounsfield units) volumes, and corresponding burden (plaque volume × 100%/vessel volume), stenosis, remodeling index, contrast density difference (maximum percent difference in attenuation/cross-sectional area from proximal cross-section), and plaque length.
Results: ACS patients had fewer lesions (median, 1), with higher total NCP and LD-NCP burdens (NCP: 57.4% vs 41.5%; LD-NCP: 12.5% vs 8%; P ≤ .04), higher maximal stenoses (85.6% vs 53.0%; P = .003) and contrast density differences (46.1 vs 16.3%; P < .006). Per-patient CP burden was not different between ACS and controls. NCP and LD-NCP plaque burden was higher in culprit vs nonculprit arteries (NCP: 57.8% vs 9.5%; LD-NCP: 8.4% vs 0.6%; P ≤ .0003); CP was not significantly different. Culprit arteries had increased plaque lengths, remodeling indices, stenoses, and contrast density differences (46.1% vs 10.9%; P ≤ .001).
Conclusion: Noninvasive quantitative coronary artery analysis identified several differences for ACS, both on per-patient and per-vessel basis, including increased NCP, LD-NCP burden, and contrast density difference.
Keywords: Acute coronary syndrome; Coronary CT angiography; Coronary plaque; Plaque burden; Plaque quantification; Plaque volume; Quantitative coronary tree analysis.
Copyright © 2014 Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.