In patients with suspected or documented heart disease, a precise quantitative and qualitative assessment of cardiac function is critical for clinical diagnosis, risk stratification, management and prognosis. Cardiac CT is increasingly being used in diagnosis of coronary artery disease. Initially multi-detector row computed tomography (MDCT) was used chiefly for detecting coronary artery stenosis and assessment of cardiac morphology. Electron beam computed tomography has been shown to provide a highly accurate ejection fraction (±1%), with 50 ms image acquisition per image. Retrospective electrocardiographic gating allows for image reconstruction in any phase of the cardiac cycle. Thus, end systolic and end diastolic images can be produced to assess ventricular volumes and function. Despite lower temporal resolution than electron beam computed tomography, the ability of MDCT to assess ejection fraction is preserved. In the assessment of cardiac function, MDCT has been shown to be in good agreement with echocardiography, cineventriculography, single photon emission computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. The fast technical development of scanner hardware along with multisegmental image reconstruction has led to rapid improvement of spatial and temporal resolution and significantly faster cardiac scans. The same data that is acquired for MDCT angiography can also be used for evaluation of cardiac function. Considering contrast media application, radiation exposure, and limited temporal resolution, MDCT solely for analysis of cardiac function parameters seems not reasonable at the present time. However, because the data is already obtained during coronary evaluation, the combination of noninvasive coronary artery imaging and assessment of cardiac function with MDCT is a suitable approach to a conclusive cardiac workup in patients with suspected coronary artery disease. MDCT seems suitable for assessment of cardiac function by MDCT when results are held in comparison to magnetic resonance imaging as the reference standard. Given the radiation dose and contrast requirement, referring a patient to MDCT only for evaluation of function is not warranted, but rather adds important clinical information to the already acquired data during retrospective triggering for MDCT angiography.
From the *Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA; †The Ciccarone Preventive Cardiology Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; and ‡Division of Cardiology, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA, Torrance, CA.
Received for publication January 2, 2006; accected March 18, 2006.
Reprints: Matthew Budoff, MD, Division of Cardiology, Harbor-UCLA, Research and Education Institute, 1124 W Carson Street, Bldg RB-2, Torrance, CA 90502-2064 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).