Spectral CT beats CT at illuminating heart plaque

October 29, 2010
Diagnostic Imaging Europe Vol 26 No 7, Volume 26, Issue 7

Radiologists can for the first time visualize those coronary artery plaques vulnerable to rupture using spectral CT, an innovati that will lead to better and earlier diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, according to researchers.

Radiologists can for the first time visualize those coronary artery plaques vulnerable to rupture using spectral CT, an innovati that will lead to better and earlier diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, according to researchers. Ruptures of atherosclerotic plaques are the cause of nearly 70% of heart attacks. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) gravitate to plaques vulnerable to rupture and remove them from the arterial wall. Researchers from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York inserted tiny gold particles into HDL and injected mice with the altered entity. Using a spectral CT scanner from Philips Medical Systems, the researchers were able to see the gold particles as the HDL targeted microphages, thus illuminating the location of the vulnerable plaques.

Conventional CT provides a gray image of the artery with not enough contrast to differentiate types and density of tissue. Spectral CT shows the effect of gold particles while also distinguishing calcium deposits and contrast agents. Together, this information is used to identify stenoses, thus helping define both the severity of atherosclerosis and heart attack risk.

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