Rationale and Objectives To investigate the stabilities of plaque attenuation and coronary lumen for different plaque types, stenotic degrees, lumen densities, and reconstruction methods using coronary vessel phantoms and the visualization of coronary plaques in clinical patients through coronary computed tomography (CT) angiography. Materials and Methods We performed 320-detector volume scanning of vessel tubes with stenosis and a tube without stenosis using three types of plaque CT numbers. The stenotic degrees were 50% and 75%. Images were reconstructed with filtered back projection (FBP) and two types of iterative reconstructions (AIDR3D and FIRST [forward-projected model-based iterative reconstruction solution]), with stenotic CT number of approximately 40, 80, and 150 HU (Hounsfield unit), respectively. In each case, the tubing of the coronary vessel was filled with diluted contrast material and distilled water to reach the target lumen CT numbers of approximately 350 HU and 450 HU, and 0 HU, respectively. Peak lumen and plaque CT numbers were measured to calculate the lumen–plaque contrast. In addition, we retrospectively evaluated the image quality with regard to coronary arterial lumen and the plaque in 10 clinical patients on a 4-point scale. Results At 50% stenosis, the plaque CT number with contrast enhancement increased for FBP and AIDR3D, and the difference in the plaque CT number with and without contrast enhancement was 15–44 HU for FBP and 10–31 HU for AIDR3D. However, the plaque CT number for FIRST had a smaller variation and the difference with and without contrast enhancement was −12 to 8 HU. The visual evaluation score for the vessel lumen was 2.8 ± 0.6, 3.5 ± 0.5, and 3.7 ± 0.5 for FBP, AIDR3D, and FIRST, respectively. Conclusions The FIRST method controls the increase in plaque density and the lumen–plaque contrast. Consequently, it improves the visualization of coronary plaques in coronary CT angiography.
- Coronary plaque attenuation
- coronary CT angiography
- full statistical iterative reconstruction algorithm
- lumen–plaque contrast
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging