AJR: CT, MR equivalent in ED assessment of myocardial infarct

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Cardiac imaging for myocardial infarct size in an emergency department (ED) is constrained by the difficulty of conducting MR or nuclear medicine exams on unstable patients. However, using more widely available multidetector CT (MDCT) technology shows promise as an alternative imaging technique that may provide similar information.

A multinational study published this month in the American Journal of Roentgenology by researchers in collaboration between the VA Medical Center in San Francisco and the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, found that delayed enhanced MDCT allows accurate visualization of early myocardial contrast uptake compared with delayed enhanced MRI and does not require an additional contrast injection after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

“The size of the infarct is one of the most important predictors of long-term left ventricular function in patients with an acute myocardial infarction,” said Loic Boussel, MD, lead study author. “Imaging of myocardial infarct size is difficult in the emergency setting as the current ‘gold standard’ methods of delayed enhanced MRI and nuclear medicine techniques are difficult to perform in unstable patients. CT is very easy and quick to perform even at the acute phase so we wanted to find out if it can do the same job as MRI and potentially provide further information.”
The team’s study included 19 patients (16 men and 3 women with a mean age of 50) with acute myocardial infarction who underwent delayed enhanced MDCT immediately after coronary angioplasty (mean time, 22 minutes) and underwent delayed enhanced MRI within eight days of angioplasty.

CT scans were performed on a Philips Healthcare Brilliance 40 scanner and images from the studies were evaluated on a Brilliance 3D workstation. The MR scans were performed on a 1.5-Tesla MR system, either a Philips Intera or a Siemens Medical Solutions’ Avento, and image evaluation was performed on a GE Healthcare Advantage workstation.

All angiographic images were reviewed by an experienced interventional cardiologist for thrombolysis in myocardial infarction (TIMI) score evaluation before and after reperfusion. In addition, consensus analysis on image quality was performed by three CT observers and two MRI observers. Sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of delayed enhanced MDCT were calculated using MRI, according to the researchers.

“The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of CT were, respectively, 90.1 percent, 96.7 percent, 93.5 percent and 94.9 percent for the classification of involved versus healthy segments, and 87.6 percent, 97.7 percent, 95 percent and 93.9 percent for the classification of transmural extent,” the authors wrote.

The researchers noted that the sensitivity of CT was slightly lower than the specificity in their results, which they believe indicates that some segments showing delayed enhancement on MRI were missed on CT. They also found that in some cases, CT overestimated infarct size, particularly with regard to the extent of transmural enhancement.

However, the results overall demonstrate the feasibility of using delayed contrast-enhanced CT immediately after emergency PCI without the need for an additional contrast injection.

“In all cases, CT allowed adequate visualization of myocardial contrast uptake in the same territory as the occluded coronary artery,” the authors wrote. “All CT examinations showed good image quality in addition to good contrast between healthy and infarcted myocardium. Agreement, in terms of the number of segments involved, transmural extension, and myocardial infarct size, was found to be very good with delayed enhanced MRI.”