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Patient Factors Mar Accuracy of Multi-Detector CT Scans

Image quality varies due to ethnicity, weight, heart rate, study finds

TUESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A type of computed tomography scan used to detect coronary artery disease can be affected by factors such as a patient's ethnicity, height/weight ratio and heart rate, researchers have found.

The scanning technology at issue is known as multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT). In the new international study, researchers looked at scans of 291 patients with clogged arteries and found that images from black patients had poorer quality than those from white patients. The findings are to be published in the January issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

"Physiologic factors such as high heart rate, arrhythmia, obesity and high coronary calcium burden with motion continue to limit the diagnostic accuracy of MDCT as compared with conventional invasive coronary angiography. Our study is significant because we found a relevant influence of body-mass index [height/weight ratio], heart rate, ethnicity and breathing artifact on the degradation of image quality," study author Dr. Melvin E. Clouse said in a news release.

Doctors use the scans because they are accurate and reliable, the researchers noted. But "the diagnostic ability of any imaging method is directly dependent on image quality," Clouse added. "With this new knowledge combined with new and advanced CT scanners, we have the potential to improve image quality of coronary CT angiography, further making the test even more accurate and independent of patient characteristics."

More information

Learn more about computed tomography from the American Heart Association.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American College of Radiology/American Roentgen Ray Society, news release, Dec. 22, 2009

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