Can Non-calcified Coronary Artery Plaques Be Detected on Non-contrast CT Calcium Scoring Studies?
Acad Radiol 2011; 18:858-865
Christian Thilo, MD, Mulugeta Gebregziabher, PhD, Florian B. Mayer, MD, Thomas M. Berghaus, MD, Peter L. Zwerner, MD, U. Joseph Schoepf, MD
Rationale and Objectives: Coronary computed tomographic (CT) angiography has been shown to detect noncalcified coronary artery plaque. Depending on tissue composition, noncalcified plaque differs in CT attenuation from blood and epicardial fat. The aim of this study was to determine whether noncalcified plaque can be visually detected on non-contrast-enhanced CT calcium scoring studies.
Materials and Methods: A total of 106 patients (40 women; mean age, 59 years) who underwent coronary calcium scoring, coronary CT angiography, and quantitative catheter angiography were prospectively investigated. Two blinded observers independently reviewed calcium scoring studies for positive vascular remodeling and hypoattenuation within the vessel wall, suggestive of noncalcified plaque. Findings on calcium scoring studies were compared with those on coronary CT angiography and quantitative catheter angiography.
Results: The mean Agatston score was 515.8 ±826.8. Overall interobserver agreement for the identification of noncalcified lesions was substantial (k - 0.69). Observer 1 and observer 2 identified 21 and 17 patients, respectively, with 38 and 35 lesions suggestive of noncalcified plaque. Coronary CT angiography confirmed noncalcified plaque in 33 of 38 (86.8%; observer 1) and 31 of 35 (88.6%; observer 2) lesions. Thus, the overall positive predictive value for correct identification of noncalcified plaque on calcium scoring studies was 0.88, although overall sensitivity was low at 0.39.
Conclusions: Noncalcified plaque can be visually detected on calcium scoring studies. Review of calcium scoring studies for features of noncalcified plaque may enhance the identification of patients with more active disease and higher cardiovascular risk.