Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) is more accurate than conventional catheter angiography for detecting a dangerous congenital heart abnormality that could cause sudden death, according to research by a Saint Louis University radiologist.

Esat Memisoglu, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and his team studied 28 adults at a heart hospital and imaging center in Istanbul, Turkey, who had undergone conventional X-ray angiography for chest pain or shortness of breath and then later underwent an EBCT.

In half of the patients, angiography showed a congenital abnormality – for example, a left coronary artery originating from the right side of the aorta, or vice versa. EBCT also detected the abnormalities, but in more than a third of the cases, it was able to provide information the angiography could not. Specifically, it could confidently determine whether the artery travelled perilously between the aorta and pulmonary artery, putting that patient at risk for a heart attack or sudden death, Memisoglu says.

“The most crucial clinical question is whether the artery is coursing between the aorta and pulmonary artery. Angiography did not always give us the correct answer, but it was very easy to tell using EBCT,” Memisoglu says.

Memisoglu also sees an economic advantage to using EBCT or MSCT scans in place of catheter angiography. “Liberal use of coronary catheterisations are costing taxpayers millions of dollars, driving the cost of medical insurance and creating a burden on the economy,” he says.

“We don’t want to block access to catheter angiography for patients who really need it,” Memisoglu says. “But EBCT and MSCT can help avert the unnecessary physical and psychological consequences of an invasive procedure.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center