OBJECTIVES: Although fixed view x-ray angiography remains the primary technique for anatomic imaging of coronary artery disease, the known shortcomings of 2D projection imaging may limit accurate 3D vessel and lesion definition and characterization. A recently developed method to create 3D images of the coronary arteries uses x-ray projection images acquired during a 180 degrees C-arm rotation and continuous contrast injection followed by ECG-gated iterative reconstruction. This method shows promise for providing high-quality 3D reconstructions of the coronary arteries with no user interaction but requires clinical evaluation.
METHODS: The reconstruction strategy was evaluated by comparing the reconstructed 3D volumetric images with the 2D angiographic projection images from the same 23 patients to ascertain overall image quality, lesion visibility, and a comparison of 3D quantitative coronary analysis with 2D quantitative coronary analysis.
RESULTS: The majority of the resulting 3D volume images were rated as having high image quality (66%) and provided the physician with additional clinical information such as complete visualization of bifurcations and unobtainable views of the coronary tree. True-positive lesion detection rates were high (90 to 100%), whereas false-positive detection rates were low (0 to 8.1%). Finally, 3D quantitative coronary analysis showed significant similarity with 2D quantitative coronary analysis in terms of lumen diameters and provided vessel segment length free from the errors of foreshortening.
CONCLUSIONS: Fully automated reconstruction of rotational coronary x-ray angiograms is feasible, produces 3D volumetric images that overcome some of the limitations of standard 2D angiography, and is ready for further implementation and study in the clinical environment.