CT coronary angiography: indications, image acquisition, and interpretation

Authors: U.J. Schoepf a,b, C. Thilo a,b, M.J. Fernández a y P. Costello a

a Departamento de Radiología.
b División de Cardiología. Departamento de Medicina. Medical University of South Carolina. EE. UU.


Intense scientific and clinical evaluation have brought about great improvements in cardiac CT. This is no longer merely an experimental technique, rather it has become a clinical application that is ready to fulfill its promise of replacing invasive cardiac catheterization in certain patient populations. Among the proven indications is the evaluation of patients with atypical chest pain, the morphological evaluation of the coronary arteries in cases of suspected congenital anomalies, and before surgical intervention, as well as the evaluation of coronary revascularizations. The use of CT angiography for the exhaustive evaluation of cardiac and noncardiac pathology in patients with acute chest pain in the emergency department is currently being investigated. Because the heart is continuously moving, CT coronary angiography represents a greater technical challenge than other applications of CT. On the other hand, rapid technical development requires acquisition protocols to be adjusted constantly. However, users that know the general techniques of computed tomography can overcome these challenges. The aim of this article is to provide those interested and involved in CT angiography with a manual to enable them to follow our method step by step. We include considerations regarding the correct selection of patients, patient medication, radiological protection, contrast enhancement, acquisition and reconstruction parameters, image display, image analysis techniques, and the radiological report. Our recommendations are based on our experience, which runs from the evolution of multiple-row detector CT scanners for cardiac applications from its beginnings to the most modern presentations of advanced acquisition modalities, including dualsource CT, which we consider to be the precursor of this test in routine clinical practice.