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High-Tech CT Useful in Spotting Heart Disease

But scans shouldn't replace a full clinical diagnosis, experts say

TUESDAY, July 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- While newer generation CT scans are useful in detecting coronary artery disease, the technology does not replace the need for a doctor's clinical judgment and should be used only when medically necessary, a new study finds.

The international study included 238 patients with suspected coronary artery disease. CT angiography (CTA) with a 16-detector scanner was used to check for narrowing of the patients' coronary arteries.

"Our results indicated that a negative finding on computed tomography angiography virtually eliminated the possibility of having significant coronary artery disease," study lead author Dr. Mario J. Garcia, director of cardiac imaging at Cleveland Clinic, said in a prepared statement.

"This means that if no significant narrowing was seen by CTA, the results confirm those of conventional coronary angiography, potentially eliminating the need for this invasive procedure," Garcia added.

He noted, however, that the study also found coronary CTA with a 16-detector scanner often produces inconclusive or "false-positive" results. Therefore, the test should not be used indiscriminately but only when it's considered to be medically necessary.

Since the study was completed, more powerful 64-detector scanners have become available and additional research with these newer scanners is needed, the study authors said.

They published the findings in the July 26 Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about coronary artery disease.

SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic, news release, July 25, 2006
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