The utility of coronary computed tomography angiography in elderly patients

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Background Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) is often avoided in elderly patients due to a presumption that a high proportion of patients will have heavily calcified plaque limiting an accurate assessment. We sought to assess the image quality, luminal stenosis and utility of CCTA in elderly patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) and stable chest pain. Methods Retrospective analysis of elderly patients (> 75 years) who underwent 320-detector row CCTA between 2012-2017 at MonashHeart. The CCTA was analysed for degree maximal coronary stenosis by CAD-RADS classification, image quality by a 5-point Likert score (1-poor, 2-adequate, 3-good, 4-very good, 5-excellent) and presence of artefact limiting interpretability. Results 1011 elderly patients (62% females, 78.8 ± 3.3 years) were studied. Cardiovascular risk factor prevalence included: hypertension (65%), hyperlipidaemia (48%), diabetes (19%) and smoking (21%). The CCTA was evaluable in 68% of patients which included 52% with non-obstructive CAD (< 50% stenosis), 48% with obstructive CAD (> 50%) stenosis. Mean Likert score was 3.1 ± 0.6 corresponding to good image quality. Of the 323 (32%) of patients with a non-interpretable CCTA, 80% were due to calcified plaque and 20% due to motion artefact. Male gender (P = 0.009), age (P = 0.02), excess motion (P < 0.01) and diabetes mellitus (P = 0.03) were associated with non-interpretable CCTA. Conclusion Although CCTA is a feasible non-invasive tool for assessment of elderly patients with stable chest pain, clinicians should still be cautious about referring elderly patients for CCTA. Patients who are male, diabetic and >78 years of age are significantly less likely to have interpretable scans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geriatric Cardiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Coronary artery calcium
  • Coronary CT angiography
  • Multi-detector row CT
  • The elderly

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