AHA committee supports electron-beam CT

October 17, 2006

Electron-beam CT is now officially established as a useful technique in identifying individuals with or at risk for coronary heart disease, according to a scientific statement published today in Circulation.

Electron-beam CT is now officially established as a useful technique in identifying individuals with or at risk for coronary heart disease, according to a scientific statement published today in Circulation.

This conclusion, drawn by an American Heart Association writing committee, should come as welcome news to the installed base of EBCT users, according to Brian Duchinsky, general manager of the CT business for GE Healthcare, currently the only commercial provider of this technology.

"They have been proponents and believers of this clinical application based on their own extensive clinical experience," he said.

The news likely will have little effect, however, on demand for GE's e-Speed EBCT. The company continues to list its e-Speed for sale, according to a source at GE, but few systems are purchased.

Interest in cardiac CT has shifted to the less costly and more versatile mechanically based 64-slice CT scanners. These systems, like the e-Speed, can be used to evaluate calcium accumulation in the coronaries as an indicator of risk for coronary heart disease. The guidance written by the AHA committee, however, is specific to EBCT.

"Our conclusions are definitive that this is a test that's going to be useful in clinical practice," said lead author Dr. Matthew Budoff, an associate professor of medicine at Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center.

Coronary artery calcification screening can play a significant role in predicting cardiac deaths and making treatment decisions for millions of people at intermediate risk for coronary disease, according to the committee, although it is not useful for those at high or low risk. The committee's findings are particularly significant as physicians typically have difficulty deciding on treatment for these patients.