Computed tomography of coronary artery atherosclerosis: A review

J Med Imaging Radiat Sci. 2021 Nov;52(3S):S19-S39. doi: 10.1016/j.jmir.2021.08.007. Epub 2021 Sep 1.


Coronary artery atherosclerosis resulting in ischemic cardiac disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States. In symptomatic patients, invasive diagnostic methods like catheter angiography, intravascular ultrasound, or vascular endoscopy may be used. However, for primary prevention of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease in asymptomatic patients, non-invasive methods are more commonly utilized like stress imaging, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and coronary artery calcification scoring. Coronary computed tomographic angiography (CCTA) is an excellent diagnostic tool for detection of coronary artery plaque and ability to identify resultant stenoses with an excellent negative predictive value which can potentially result in optimal exclusion of the presence of coronary artery disease. Long term follow up after a negative CCTA has repeatedly demonstrated very low incidence of future adverse coronary events, attesting its predictive value. CCTA based management is associated with improved CAD outcome in stable angina. Coronary CTA is valuable in acute chest pain evaluation in the emergency department helping in better triage. CT perfusion and CT-FFR are both very promising tools for assessment of hemodynamic significance of coronary artery stenosis.

Keywords: Bypass grafts and stents; CT-FFR; Coronary artery atherosclerosis; Coronary computed tomographic angiography (CCTA); Vulnerable plaque.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • United States