Our aim was to evaluate the atherosclerotic plaque burden and morphology as determined by 64-slice multislice computed tomography (MSCT) coronary angiography in relation to the calcium score in patients presenting with suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
The absence of coronary calcium during coronary calcium scoring has been proposed to rule out significant coronary artery disease (CAD). However, data in patients presenting with suspected ACS are scarce.
In 40 patients (age 57 ± 11 years, 26 men) presenting with suspected ACS, MSCT coronary angiography in combination with coronary calcium scoring was performed before conventional coronary angiography. MSCT angiograms were evaluated for the presence or absence of coronary atherosclerotic plaque and the presence or absence of obstructive (≥50% luminal narrowing) CAD. In addition, plaque type was determined, and findings were related to the calcium score.
Coronary artery disease was observed in 38 patients, of whom 10 patients had nonobstructive and 28 patients had obstructive CAD, confirmed by conventional coronary angiography in all patients. In patients with CAD, plaques were distributed as follows: 39% noncalcified plaques, 47% mixed plaques, and 14% calcified plaques. Coronary calcium was detected in 27 patients, of whom 10 had a score >400. In 13 (33%) patients, no coronary calcium was observed, but in 11 (85%), atherosclerotic plaques were detected on MSCT angiography.
In patients presenting with suspected ACS, noncalcified plaques are highly prevalent and the absence of coronary calcium does not reliably exclude the presence of (significant) atherosclerosis. This information may be of value to improve our understanding of the potential role of MSCT in this patient population.