Advanced computed tomography (CT) scans are as reliable and accurate as invasive procedures when looking for heart blockages, a new study says.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins say the newer, 64-slice CT scans, introduced in the US as recently as 2005, will help cardiologists rule out those who can skip more invasive procedures like coronary angiography.
At present, it is estimated that about 25 percent of the 1.3 million coronary angiographies performed each year in the US are unnecessary. The latest study 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.
Researchers found that 64-CT scans were 83 percent to 90 percent accurate, while tests using older, 16-CT scans were in some instances only 20 percent to 30 percent as precise.
"This study is the first step to realising 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," says cardiologist Julie Miller, who led the study at Hopkins.
The results of the study were presented Monday at the American Heart Association's (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando.