Coronary artery calcification is often not reported in pulmonary CT angiography in patients with suspected pulmonary embolism: An opportunity to improve diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome

Connor Johnson, Omid Khalilzadeh, Robert A. Novelline, Garry Choy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. In patients with suspected pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE), coronary artery calcification (CAC) can be an incidental finding on pulmonary CT angiography. We evaluated the frequency of CAC not being reported and its association with a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). MATERIALS AND METHODS. Data of 469 consecutive patients who were referred to the emergency radiology department for pulmonary CT angiography of suspected PTE were reviewed. Radiology reports were rechecked and positive CAC findings were recorded. All pulmonary CT angiograms were reevaluated by one radiologist and CAC findings were recorded. The rates of ACS and PTE as final diagnoses for that hospital admission were calculated. The association between CAC and ACS diagnosis was assessed in different subgroups of patients. RESULTS. Approximately 11.1% of patients had PTE and 43.8% had CAC. The incidence of CAC was significantly higher in patients with an ACS diagnosis than in those without ACS (56.2% vs 40.4%, respectively; odds ratio [OR] = 1.9). There was a strong positive association (OR = 3.5) between CAC and ACS in younger patients (men ≤ 45 years and women ≤ 55 years), patients without PTE (OR = 2.2), and those without cardiometabolic risk factors (OR = 3.8). CAC was not reported in 45% of patients ( n = 98) with positive CAC findings on imaging. ACS was the final diagnosis in 31.6% of patients with unreported CAC. There was a significant association between CAC and ACS in patients with unreported CAC (OR = 2.2). This association was more prominent in the subgroups described. CONCLUSION. CAC is often not reported in pulmonary CT angiography studies. CAC is a significant predictor of ACS particularly in younger patients, patients without PTE, and those without cardiometabolic risk factors. Especially in these subgroups, radiologists should assess CAC findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-729
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Volume202
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Acute coronary syndrome
  • Coronary calcification
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Pulmonary CT angiography
  • Pulmonary thromboemboli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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