Ruling Out Coronary Artery Disease With Noninvasive Coronary Multidetector CT Angiography before Noncoronary Cardiovascular Surgery

OBJECTIVES: To assess the usefulness of preoperative coronary computed tomographic (CT) angiography in the detection of coronary artery disease (CAD) in nonselected patients scheduled to undergo noncoronary cardiovascular surgery to avoid unnecessary invasive coronary angiography (ICA).

METHODS: The institutional review board approved the study protocol; informed consent was given. This prospective study involved 161 consecutive patients who underwent coronary calcium scoring and coronary CT angiography before undergoing noncoronary cardiovascular surgery. Seven patients were excluded because of contraindications to CT angiography. The major indication of noncoronary cardiovascular surgery was valvular heart disease (121 patients). Follow-up was performed at a median of 20 months to define ischemic events described as acute coronary syndrome or death secondary to acute coronary syndrome, arrhythmias, or cardiac failure. Multivariate analysis was performed to determine predictors of nondiagnostic coronary CT angiography. Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to evaluate outcome at follow-up.

RESULTS: Twenty-one patients did not undergo surgery, which left 133 patients as the study group. Atrial fibrillation was present in 45 of 133 patients. The interquartile range of the Agatston coronary calcium score was 0-471. Coronary CT angiography was diagnostic in 108 of 133 patients. Of these, 93 of 108 had no significant CAD (≤50% stenosis), and noncoronary cardiovascular surgery was performed in them without preoperative ICA. No patients in this group had postoperative ischemic events at follow-up. Coronary CT angiography was nondiagnostic in 25 of 133 patients who were referred for preoperative ICA. Multivariate analysis showed Agatston score to be the only independent predictor of nondiagnostic coronary CT angiography (odds ratio = 1.002; 95% confidence interval: 1.001, 1.003; P = .001). The best Agatston score cutoff for diagnostic coronary CT angiography was 579.

CONCLUSIONS: In nonselected patients scheduled to undergo noncoronary cardiovascular surgery, preoperative coronary CT angiography was diagnostic in 81% of cases. Preoperative ICA could be safely avoided in patients without significant CAD by using coronary CT angiography. The Agatston score, but not the presence of atrial fibrillation, was an independent predictor of nondiagnostic coronary CT angiography.

PMID: 21079198

Posted in Computed Tomography and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. Very interesting paper!

    Few questions:

    1) Approximately 3/4 of the patients were women. Do these results translate to men as well?

    2) The authors’ state: “Although noninvasive tests for inducible ischemia could represent an alternative to ICA, its usefulness is limited in practice because of a proved suboptimal predictive value of post-operative complications in these patients“. To my knowledge, we know even less about CTA as a predictor of post-operative complications.

    This is a great start. I believe that in adequately selected patients, CTA should be the starting point (and hopefully the last step) in pre-operative cardiac clearance.

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