CT is the preferred noninvasive technology for assessing the condition of heart arteries, whether there is narrowing that might end with the total blockage that causes a heart attack, Schoepf said. "MRI is not in current use to look at coronary artery disease," he said. "We use MRI angiography if we are interested in heart muscle, as when there are congenital heart abnormalities in children. The strength of MRI is that it shows tissue configuration."
That difference helps explain why there are so few studies doing head-to-head comparison of CT versus MRI, he said. The German analysis found only five such studies.
Dr. Ricardo Cury, director of cardiac MRI and CT at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Miami and a consultant radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that the "meta-analysis demonstrates a knowledge that we have accumulated for the past several years."
"For imaging of the cardiac arteries, CT is more robust," Cury said. "We perform MRI on a clinical basis more for functional assessment, as opposed to looking at the coronary arteries."
Though that difference is well established among radiologists, the new study may be of assistance in the general medical community, including general cardiologists, because "it summarizes the advantages of CT at this point in time," he said.
Indeed, CT appears to be better for assessment of coronary artery disease, matched against not only MRI but other methods, such as echocardiography, he said.
The Cleveland Clinic has more on CT, MRI and similar tests.
SOURCES: Uwe Joseph Schoepf, M.D., professor, radiology and cardiology, Medical Universi
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