Automated Quantitative Plaque Burden from Coronary CT Angiography Noninvasively Predicts Hemodynamic Significance by using Fractional Flow Reserve in Intermediate Coronary Lesions

Radiology. 2015 Aug;276(2):408-15. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2015141648. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Purpose: To evaluate the utility of multiple automated plaque measurements from coronary computed tomographic (CT) angiography in determining hemodynamic significance by using invasive fractional flow reserve (FFR) in patients with intermediate coronary stenosis.

Materials and methods: The study was approved by the institutional review board. All patients provided written informed consent. Fifty-six intermediate lesions (with 30%-69% diameter stenosis) in 56 consecutive patients (mean age, 62 years; range, 46-88 years), who subsequently underwent invasive coronary angiography with assessment of FFR (values ≤0.80 were considered hemodynamically significant) were analyzed at coronary CT angiography. Coronary CT angiography images were quantitatively analyzed with automated software to obtain the following measurements: volume and burden (plaque volume × 100 per vessel volume) of total, calcified, and noncalcified plaque; low-attenuation (<30 HU) noncalcified plaque; diameter stenosis; remodeling index; contrast attenuation difference (maximum percent difference in attenuation per unit area with respect to the proximal reference cross section); and lesion length. Logistic regression adjusted for potential confounding factors, receiver operating characteristics, and integrated discrimination improvement were used for statistical analysis.

Results: FFR was 0.80 or less in 21 (38%) of the 56 lesions. Compared with nonischemic lesions, ischemic lesions had greater diameter stenosis (65% vs 52%, P = .02) and total (49% vs 37%, P = .0003), noncalcified (44% vs 33%, P = .0004), and low-attenuation noncalcified (9% vs 4%, P < .0001) plaque burden. Calcified plaque and remodeling index were not significantly different. In multivariable analysis, only total, noncalcified, and low-attenuation noncalcified plaque burden were significant predictors of ischemia (P < .015). For predicting ischemia, the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve was 0.83 for total plaque burden versus 0.68 for stenosis (P = .04).

Conclusion: Compared with stenosis grading, automatic quantification of total, noncalcified, and low-attenuation noncalcified plaque burden substantially improves determination of lesion-specific hemodynamic significance by FFR in patients with intermediate coronary lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Angiography*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / complications
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial*
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / complications
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / physiopathology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*