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Imaging of Congenital Cardiovascular Disease: The Case for Computed Tomography

Hlavacek, Anthony Marcus MD, MSCR

Journal of Thoracic Imaging:
doi: 10.1097/RTI.0b013e3181cc05e6

Computed tomographic angiography is a rapidly evolving modality that is well suited for congenital cardiac imaging. Although echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging carry an established role for evaluating patients with congenital cardiovascular disease, computed tomographic angiography provides important advantages over each of these modalities in certain clinical scenarios. Its practicality, high spatial resolution, inherent 3-dimensional nature, and decreased need for sedation make it a very useful tool in this patient population. This study reviews the utility of computed tomographic angiography and addresses the risks and benefits of this modality in comparison with other imaging modalities. Despite the exposure to ionizing radiation, newer technologies and techniques are being introduced that are decreasing the risks associated with computed tomographic imaging to exceedingly small levels. When viewed in the context of other risks these patients encounter, computed tomographic angiography is a useful adjunct to echocardiography in patients with congenital heart disease and is often preferable to magnetic resonance imaging in certain patients.

Author Information

Department of Pediatrics, Cardiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC

Dr Hlavacek has not received funding for research related to this study and has no relevant conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Anthony Marcus Hlavacek, MD, MSCR, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Cardiology, Medical University of South Carolina, 165 Ashley Avenue, MSC 915, Charleston, SC 29425-9150 (e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.