CHICAGO — Computer-enhanced X-rays are showing promise in rapidly detecting coronary artery disease in people under 60 without requiring the insertion of tubes or other equipment into the body, radiologists said Monday.
A technique called ultrafast computed tomography that uses such X-rays to detect calcium in arteries could be highly accurate and cost-effective in detecting coronary artery disease, the doctors reported.
"Ultrafast CT appeared to be able to rule out significant coronary artery disease in 100% of the cases we studied," said Dr. Jerome Breen of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
He presented his findings at the 76th annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, which began its five-day convention Monday in Chicago.
Ultrafast CT was performed on 100 patients ages 23 to 59 who were sent to specialists for coronary angiograms, primarily because of such symptoms as chest pain or chest tightness that suggested coronary artery disease, Breen said.
An angiogram requires that an artery, usually in the groin, be punctured and a tube threaded up into the chest arteries that feed the heart. An X-ray dye is then injected into the heart arteries and X-rays are taken of them.
The accuracy of the ultrafast CT was determined by comparing its results to the results of angiograms taken on each of the patients.
"Ultrafast CT is . . . sensitive at detecting the presence of calcium in the arteries, a sign of atherosclerotic disease," Breen said.