Comparison of electron-beam computed tomography and intracoronary ultrasound in detecting calcified and noncalcified plaques in patients with acute coronary syndromes and no or minimal to moderate angiographic coronary artery disease

Am J Cardiol. 1998 Jan 15;81(2):141-6. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(97)00890-4.


We compared intracoronary ultrasound (ICUS) and electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) on a coronary segmental basis in 40 consecutive patients with acute coronary syndromes and no or minimal to moderate angiographic disease (53+/-10 years; 34 men, 6 women). ICUS was used to define plaques, and EBCT was used to quantify coronary calcium (using a threshold of a CT density > 130 Hounsfield units in an area > 1.03 mm2). In a site-by-site analysis, coronary segments were defined as normal if both methods were negative, as containing noncalcified plaques if only ICUS was positive, and as containing calcified plaques if both methods were positive. A total of 222 coronary segments were analyzed (5.6+/-1.9 segments per patient). In 36 patients (90%), a total of 95 segments with plaques were identified, whereas in 4 patients (10%), only normal segments were seen. Of the 95 segments with plaques, 61 (64%) were calcified, and 34 (36%) were noncalcified. There was a linear relationship between the number of segments with calcified and with noncalcified plaques (r = 0.86, p <0.0001), but the mean relative frequency of segments with calcified plaques (55+/-38%) was highly variable. Calcium was found in 15 of 16 patients (93%) with 3 or more segments with plaques, while it was found in only 12 of 20 patients (60%) with one or 2 segments with plaques (p = 0.026). Younger age, higher low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels, diabetes, and active smoking predicted a higher relative frequency of segments with noncalcified plaques. Thus, in patients with acute coronary syndromes but no angiographically critical stenoses, there is a linear relationship between segments with calcified plaques versus segments with noncalcified plaques. However, while the mean ratio of these segments is close to 1:1, it is highly variable among individual patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcinosis / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Syndrome
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*