Spectral CT IDs heart plaque better than conventional

October 13, 2010
Diagnostic Imaging, Diagnostic Imaging Vol 32 No 9, Volume 32, Issue 9

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

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

Ruptured 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 Mount Sinai in New York inserted tiny gold particles into HDL and injected mice with them. 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 doesn’t provide 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.