OBJECTIVES: Recently, small calcifications have been associated with unstable plaques. Plaque calcifications are both in intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and multi-slice computed tomography (MSCT) easily recognized. However, smaller calcifications might be missed on MSCT due to its lower resolution.
METHODS: Because it is unknown to which extent calcifications can be detected with MSCT, we compared calcification detection on contrast enhanced MSCT with IVUS. The coronary arteries of patients with myocardial infarction or unstable angina were imaged by 64-slice MSCT angiography and IVUS. The IVUS and MSCT images were registered and the arteries were inspected on the presence of calcifications on both modalities independently. We measured the length and the maximum circumferential angle of each calcification on IVUS.
RESULTS: In 31 arteries, we found 99 calcifications on IVUS, of which only 47 were also detected on MSCT. The calcifications missed on MSCT (n = 52) were significantly smaller in angle (27° ± 16° vs. 59° ± 31°) and length (1.4 ± 0.8 vs. 3.7 ± 2.2 mm) than those detected on MSCT. Calcifications could only be detected reliably on MSCT if they were larger than 2.1 mm in length or 36° in angle.
CONCLUSIONS: Half of the calcifications seen on the IVUS images cannot be detected on contrast enhanced 64-slice MSCT angiography images because of their size. The limited resolution of MSCT is the main reason for missing small calcifications.
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