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New Computerized Scans Effective for Spotting Clogged Arteries
Date:11/5/2007

They could eliminate need for invasive procedures for some patients, study says

MONDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The new generation of cardiac scanners is almost as reliable as more invasive procedures when checking for blockages in the heart and surrounding arteries, researchers are reporting.

The new, 64-slice CT scans, introduced in the United States in 2005, won't eliminate the need for examining arteries through the more invasive process known as cardiac catheterization, also known as coronary angiography. But the scans will help cardiologists more quickly determine which patients can skip cardiac catheterization. As many as 25 percent of the 1.3 million cardiac catheterizations done each year in the United States may not be necessary, the researchers said.

The study results also showed that early detection with 64-CT is a good predictor of who will need angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery to open up new blood supply routes to the heart.

The findings, based on an international trial led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, were presented Monday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

"This study is the first step to realizing the full potential of CT imaging in predicting coronary artery disease, and these scans complement the arsenal of diagnostic tests available to physicians to prevent heart attacks," said Hopkins cardiologist Dr. Julie Miller, who led the study at the university.

The study results found that, on average, 91 percent of patients with blockages were detected with 64-CT scans, and the scans were able to diagnose 83 percent of patients without blockages. This level of accuracy, the researchers said, should allow cardiologists to accurately identify patients who need angioplasty or bypass surgery. More than 250,000 Americans undergo coronary bypass surgery each year.

For the study, the researchers chose 291 men and women
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