Anatomic or functional testing in stable patients with suspected CAD: contemporary role of cardiac CT in the ISCHEMIA trial era

Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2020 Jul;36(7):1351-1362. doi: 10.1007/s10554-020-01815-7. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


One of the foundations of the management of patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) is to avoid unnecessary invasive coronary angiography (ICA) referrals. However, the diagnostic yield of ICA following abnormal conventional stress testing is low. The ability of ischemia testing to predict subsequent myocardial infarction and death is currently being challenged, and more than half of cardiac events among stable patients with suspected CAD occur in those with normal functional tests. The optimal management of patients with stable CAD remains controversial and ischemia-driven interventions, though improving anginal symptoms, have failed to reduce the risk of hard cardiovascular events. In this context, there is an ongoing debate whether the initial diagnostic test among patients with stable suspected CAD should be a functional test or coronary computed tomography angiography. Aside from considering the specific characteristics of individual patients and local availability and conditions, the choice of the initial test relates to whether the objective concerns its role as gatekeeper for ICA, prognosis, or treatment decision-making. Therefore, the aim of this review is to provide a contemporary overview of these issues and discuss the emerging role of CCTA as the upfront imaging tool for most patients with suspected CAD.

Keywords: Angina; Atherosclerosis; Computed tomography; Fractional flow reserve; Stress imaging;.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Catheterization*
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Computed Tomography Angiography*
  • Coronary Angiography*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / therapy
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology
  • Exercise Test*
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results