August 2008, VOLUME 191
NUMBER 2

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August 2008, Volume 191, Number 2

Cardiac Imaging

Original Research

Assessment of Acute Myocardial Infarction Using MDCT After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: Comparison with MRI

+ Affiliations:
1Department of Radiology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

2Department of Radiology, Louis Pradel Hospital, Lyon, France.

3Present address: Department of Radiology, VA Medical Center, 4150 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94121.

4Department of Cardiology, Louis Pradel Hospital, Lyon, France.

Citation: American Journal of Roentgenology. 2008;191: 441-447. 10.2214/AJR.07.3404

ABSTRACT
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OBJECTIVE. Imaging to determine myocardial infarct size is difficult in the emergency setting because the current gold standards, MRI and nuclear medicine techniques, are difficult to perform in unstable patients. Delayed enhanced MDCT has recently been proposed as a technique to study contrast uptake in infarcted myocardium. In this study, we compared the extent of acute myocardial infarction as measured by delayed enhanced MDCT performed immediately after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) without an additional iodine injection with that measured by delayed gadolinium-enhanced MRI.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Nineteen consecutive patients presenting with primary acute myocardial infarction underwent delayed enhanced MDCT immediately after coronary angioplasty and underwent delayed enhanced MRI within 8 days of angioplasty. Only patients with a thrombolysis in myocardial infarction (TIMI) score of 0 or 1 of the culprit coronary artery before endovascular angioplasty and TIMI score of 2 or 3 after angioplasty were selected. Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI was performed by three observers and focused on identifying the involved segments and determining the transmural extent of enhancement and infarct size.

RESULTS. The mean signal intensity was significantly higher in the involved territory than in healthy myocardium: 197 ± 81 H versus 71 ± 20 H, respectively (p < 0.0001). We found significant agreement between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI for the number of involved segments, transmural extent of enhancement, and infarct size (r2 = 0.74, 0.76, and 0.67, respectively; p < 0.0001) with good interobserver reproducibility (κ = 0.8).

CONCLUSION. The results of our study show 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 PCI.

Keywords: cardiac imaging, delayed enhanced MDCT, delayed enhanced MRI, heart disease, myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention

Introduction
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One of the most significant predictors of clinical outcome and long-term left ventricular function in patients who have suffered an acute myocardial infarction is the size of the infarct [1]. Postgadolinium delayed enhanced MRI is a well-established noninvasive imaging technique that allows assessment of myocardial infarct size [2, 3]. The usefulness of this technique in the acute setting, however, is limited because of the time required for the examination and difficulty monitoring unstable patients inside the magnet. For the same reasons, nuclear medicine techniques are also difficult to use.

Delayed enhanced MDCT has been proposed as an alternative imaging technique for the noninvasive evaluation of myocardial infarct size [46]. Traditionally, images are obtained 5 minutes after the injection of IV iodinated contrast material. Recently, the feasibility of obtaining images immediately after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) without the need for an additional contrast injection was described by Habis et al. [7]. In that study, the authors also found an inverse correlation between the size of the delayed myocardial contrast uptake in infarcts and myocardial viability as assessed by segmental contraction on sonography 2–4 weeks after PCI. Delayed enhanced MDCT is a promising alternative for early infarct imaging that is fast, is widely available, and may provide information similar to that provided by MRI. There are, however, no other data to our knowledge about the quantification of myocardial delayed contrast uptake after cardiac catheterization comparing CT with other techniques, particularly MRI.

The aim of this study was to compare delayed enhanced MDCT with delayed enhanced MRI in the evaluation of myocardial contrast uptake in acute myocardial infarction after PCI without the need for an additional contrast injection.

Subjects and Methods
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Patient Studies

The study group was composed of 19 consecutive patients (16 men and three women; age range, 40–75 years; mean age, 50 years) referred to our institution for assessment after a first episode of acute myocardial infarction between January 2006 and April 2007. Myocardial infarction was diagnosed by the presence of typical chest pain associated with ECG changes, a serum concentration of creatine kinase of more than twice the upper limit of normal (with > 5% of isoenzyme creatine kinase-MB), and the presence of a complete or subtotal occlusion of the infarct-related artery on angiography (thrombolysis in myocardial infarction [TIMI] score of 0 or 1) [8]. Other inclusion criteria included the ability to undergo a complete CT examination (Killip heart failure classification [9] I and II with the ability to perform a 15-second breath-hold) and successful angioplasty of the infarct-related artery (TIMI score of 2 or 3 after the procedure) within 12 hours after the onset of chest pain. Patients with a Killip III or IV status or incomplete revascularization (TIMI 0 or 1 after procedure) were excluded. All patients underwent CT immediately after PCI and underwent MRI within 8 days of PCI.

Creatine kinase level at admission and maximum troponin value were recorded for each patient.

All angioplasty procedures were performed at our institution using iodinated contrast material (ioxaglate meglumine [Hexabrix, Guerbet]); a mean volume of 10 mL of contrast material was injected at a rate of 2 mL/s.

Informed consent was obtained from all participants after the nature of the procedure had been fully explained. The study was performed in compliance with the requirements of the institutional review board.

CT Protocol

CT scans were obtained on a Brilliance 40 scanner (Philips Healthcare). IV contrast material was administered during angioplasty, but additional contrast material was not given specifically for CT. Patients were transported from the cardiac catheterization laboratory to the CT scanner as quickly as possible after PCI. The distance between the two rooms is approximately 50 m. A low-dose retrospective ECG-triggered CT examination of the entire heart was performed using the following parameters: number of detectors, 40; individual detector width, 0.625 mm; gantry rotation time, 420 milliseconds; pitch, 0.2; half scan reconstruction mode; and craniocaudal imaging direction. The tube current was fixed to 80 kV and 600 mAs per slice. ECG tube modulation was not used. Reconstruction parameters for axial slices were a 2-mm effective section thickness, 1-mm increment, standard intermediate reconstruction filter (kernel CB), and adapted field of view. Retrospective ECG-gated reconstruction in the middiastolic phase (75% of the R-R interval) was performed.

Cardiac MDCT evaluation was performed on a 3D workstation (Brilliance Workstation, Philips Healthcare). Only the middiastolic phase (75% of the cardiac cycle) was analyzed using a 15-mm-thick multiplanar reconstruction in the short axis and horizontal long axis.

The total volume of contrast material used during the revascularization procedure and the delay between the last contrast injection and the CT acquisition were recorded. In addition, radiation exposure was recorded for each CT examination.

MR Examination

MR studies were performed on a 1.5-T scanner (Intera, Philips Healthcare; or Avento, Siemens Medical Solutions) using a dedicated cardiac coil (5 and 8 channels, respectively). First, ECG-gated steady-state free precession cine images were acquired in the two-chamber, four-chamber, and short-axis views. Second, delayed contrast-enhanced MRI was performed after the injection of 0.15 mmol/kg of a gadolinium-based contrast agent (gadoterate dimeglumine [Dotarem, Guerbet]). A 3D inversion recovery segmented gradient-echo sequence was used in the two-chamber and short-axis views. Imaging started 10 minutes after contrast administration, and the inversion time (range, 260–340 milliseconds) was optimized to obtain adequate nulling of normal myocardial signal. The imaging sequence para meters included an in-plane voxel size of from 1.25 × 1.25 mm2 to 1.5 × 1.5 mm2; slice thickness, 5 mm; flip angle, 25° (Philips unit) or 10° (Siemens unit); and TR range/TE range, 1.4–3/4.3–9.

Delayed enhanced MRI evaluation was performed on a workstation (Advantage Windows, GE Healthcare). The delay between the CT and MR examinations was recorded.

Image Evaluation and Statistical Analysis

All angiographic images were reviewed by an experienced interventional cardiologist for TIMI score evaluation before and after reperfusion.

Three blinded experienced observers evaluated the CT scans in random order. Observers were free to adjust the window width and level values. The regional extent of delayed enhancement was assessed using a 17-segment model [10]. Each segment was described as involved or healthy, and the percentage of transmural extent of enhancement was graded using a 4-point scale (1–4): 0–25%, 26–50%, 51–75%, or 76–100% [11]. Furthermore, to assess the total infarct size, infarcted myo cardium was delineated on each slice by two ob servers and the total volume of infarcted myo cardium was calculated.

Interobserver correlation was estimated between each pair of observers using a Cohen's kappa for the number of involved segments classification and a weighted Cohen's kappa for the transmural extent grading to account for the importance of the discrepancies between the observers [12]. Interobserver reproducibility of the measurement of infarct volume was calculated as the SD of the differences in measurements between each pair of observers relative to the global mean value of the measurements [13].

CT image quality of the myocardium was recorded using a 5-point scale: 0, not assessable; 1, motion or bandlike artifacts limiting interpretation; 2, motion or bandlike artifacts that did not limit interpretation; 3, no artifacts, slight blurring at the edges of enhanced areas; and 4, no artifacts, sharply defined enhanced areas. To evaluate microvascular obstruction, observers rated sparing of the immediate subendocardial myocardium by contrast enhancement in regions of infarct in the left ventricle as present (1) or absent (0). Similarly, involvement of the right ventricle was reported.

Delayed enhanced MRI was analyzed using the same criteria by two blinded experienced observers.

Finally, a consensus analysis was performed by the three CT observers and two MRI observers. A linear regression was then calculated between the CT and MRI results regarding involved and healthy segments and grading of transmural extent of enhancement. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of delayed enhanced MDCT were also calculated using MRI as the gold standard.

Pearson's correlation coefficients comparing the CT analysis with the creatine kinase value at admission and maximum troponin value were also calculated. The normality of the variables was previously checked using a skewness and kurtosis test.

The mean attenuation in Hounsfield units of enhanced myocardium on CT—measured within a manually contoured region of interest that included all the visible hyperenhanced area on a slice located in the center of the myocardial infarction—was compared with values in the left ventricular cavity and healthy myocardium using a paired Student's t test. This value was also correlated with the total volume of contrast material used during the revascularization procedure and the delay between the last contrast injection and the CT acquisition. The mean signal-to-noise ratios for MRI in enhanced myocardium, healthy myocardium, and the left ventricular cavity were also provided.

All statistical analysis was performed using statistics software (Intercooled Stata 9, StataCorp).

Results
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All 19 patients were transported from the catheterization room to the CT scanner without incident. The mean delay between the last injection for coronary angiography and CT was 22 ± 10 minutes (range, 10–45 minutes). All patients were in sinus rhythm. The culprit symptomatic coronary artery lesion of each patient and associated myocardial segments showing delayed enhancement on MRI are provided in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Culprit Coronary Artery Lesion and Associated Myocardial Segments Showing Delayed Enhancement on MRI

The mean effective dose for the CT examination was 3.89 ± 0.66 mSv (range, 2.6–5.1 mSv). All CT scans were assessable by all observers. The mean CT image quality score was 3.2 ± 0.5 on the 5-point scale (0–4).

The mean attenuation was significantly higher in the involved territory than in healthy myocardium or the left ventricular cavity: 197 ± 81 H (range, 105–394 H) for the involved territory versus 71 ± 20 H (range, 43–110 H) for healthy myocardium (p < 0.0001) and 102 ± 22 H (range, 70–145 H) for the left ventricular cavity (p < 0.0001) (Fig. 1). The mean signal-to-noise ratio on MRI is provided on this same graph. Mean values are, respectively, 64.3 ± 44.68 (range, 13.9–195.6), 12.2 ± 11 (range, 2.5–40.9), and 54.8 ± 66.6 (range, 6.8–304.3) for involved myocardium, healthy myocardium, and left ventricular cavity.

No correlation was found between the degree of enhancement and the volume of IV contrast material used during coronary angiography (mean volume of Hexabrix ± SD, 150 ± 50 mL) or the duration of the delay between the last injection and CT.

Enhanced segments were in a territory supplied by the occluded coronary artery as seen on angiography. Consensus analysis of all delayed enhanced MDCT images showed that the mean number of involved segments was 5.6 ± 2.4 segments (range, 2–11 segments). The grades of transmural extent of enhancement for each segment were summed to give a total grade of transmural extent. The mean total grade of transmural extent per patient was 21.1 ± 9.6 (range, 5–39). The mean infarct volume was 28.3 ± 13.1 cm3 (range, 8–54.6 cm3).

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Fig. 1 Comparison of CT attenuation in Hounsfield units (gray bars) and MRI signal-to-noise ratio (SNR, white bars) of involved myocardium, left ventricular cavity, and healthy myocardium. Values are expressed as mean attenuation and standard error (SE) of mean. Scales have been calibrated so that values for involved myocardium are at same height. Mean involved-to-healthy myocardium signal ratio is smaller on CT than MRI (2.7 vs 5.2, respectively). Conversely, mean involved myocardium-to-left ventricular cavity signal ratio is greater on CT than MRI (1.9 vs 1.2).

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Fig. 2A Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI findings. Correlation of number of involved segments (A; r2 = 0.74), grade of transmural extent (B; r2 = 0.76), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C; r2 = 0.67) between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI. Regression line (solid line) and 95% CIs (dashed lines) are also plotted. Grade of transmural extent for each patient and each technique corresponds to sum of score of transmural extent of enhancement of all segments (on 4-point grading scale).

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Fig. 2B Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI findings. Correlation of number of involved segments (A; r2 = 0.74), grade of transmural extent (B; r2 = 0.76), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C; r2 = 0.67) between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI. Regression line (solid line) and 95% CIs (dashed lines) are also plotted. Grade of transmural extent for each patient and each technique corresponds to sum of score of transmural extent of enhancement of all segments (on 4-point grading scale).

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Fig. 2C Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI findings. Correlation of number of involved segments (A; r2 = 0.74), grade of transmural extent (B; r2 = 0.76), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C; r2 = 0.67) between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI. Regression line (solid line) and 95% CIs (dashed lines) are also plotted. Grade of transmural extent for each patient and each technique corresponds to sum of score of transmural extent of enhancement of all segments (on 4-point grading scale).

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Fig. 3A 44-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and two-chamber views (C and D). Transmural extent of enhancement of inferior left ventricular wall (arrows) visualized with delayed enhanced MDCT matches that of delayed enhanced MRI findings. Partial involvement of right ventricle (arrowhead, A and B) is also visible.

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Fig. 3B 44-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and two-chamber views (C and D). Transmural extent of enhancement of inferior left ventricular wall (arrows) visualized with delayed enhanced MDCT matches that of delayed enhanced MRI findings. Partial involvement of right ventricle (arrowhead, A and B) is also visible.

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Fig. 3C 44-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and two-chamber views (C and D). Transmural extent of enhancement of inferior left ventricular wall (arrows) visualized with delayed enhanced MDCT matches that of delayed enhanced MRI findings. Partial involvement of right ventricle (arrowhead, A and B) is also visible.

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Fig. 3D 44-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and two-chamber views (C and D). Transmural extent of enhancement of inferior left ventricular wall (arrows) visualized with delayed enhanced MDCT matches that of delayed enhanced MRI findings. Partial involvement of right ventricle (arrowhead, A and B) is also visible.

Interobserver reproducibility was very good with a kappa value for the number of involved segments of 0.82 (0.85, 0.83, and 0.79, respectively, for each pair of observers) and a weighted kappa for the grade of transmural extent of 0.82 (0.85, 0.82, and 0.78, respectively, for each pair of observers). Interobserver reproducibility was 84.5% for the measurement of infarcted volume.

The mean delay between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI was 3.5 ± 2 days (range, 1–8 days). MR interobserver reproducibility was very good with a kappa of 0.88 for classification of the number of involved segments and a weighted kappa of 0.88 for grading transmural extent. Interobserver reproducibility was 87.5% for the measurement of infarcted volume.

There was good agreement about the number of involved segments (p < 0.0001, r2 = 0.74), grade of transmural extent (p < 0.0001, r2 = 0.76), and volume of myocardial infarct (p < 0.0001, r2 = 0.67) for both techniques (Figs. 2A, 2B, and 2C). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of CT were, respectively, 90.1%, 96.7%, 93.5%, and 94.9% for the classification of involved versus healthy segments, and 87.6%, 97.7%, 95%, and 93.9% for the classification of transmural extent.

Involvement of the right ventricle was observed in five of 19 patients (26%) with perfect agreement between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI (Figs. 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D).

Sparing of the subendocardial myocardium in regions of infarct was found in 16 patients on MRI and in only nine patients on delayed enhanced MDCT (same patients) with, in every case, visual underestimation on delayed enhanced MDCT of its extent (Figs. 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D).

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Fig. 4A 40-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and vertical long-axis views (C and D). Good visual correlation is found between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI for myocardial contrast uptake (arrows). Nevertheless, no-reflow zone (arrowhead, A) is underestimated by delayed enhanced MDCT because lack of contrast enhancement within immediate subendocardial myocardium is smaller on delayed enhanced MDCT than delayed enhanced MRI (arrowheads, B and D).

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Fig. 4B 40-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and vertical long-axis views (C and D). Good visual correlation is found between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI for myocardial contrast uptake (arrows). Nevertheless, no-reflow zone (arrowhead, A) is underestimated by delayed enhanced MDCT because lack of contrast enhancement within immediate subendocardial myocardium is smaller on delayed enhanced MDCT than delayed enhanced MRI (arrowheads, B and D).

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Fig. 4C 40-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and vertical long-axis views (C and D). Good visual correlation is found between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI for myocardial contrast uptake (arrows). Nevertheless, no-reflow zone (arrowhead, A) is underestimated by delayed enhanced MDCT because lack of contrast enhancement within immediate subendocardial myocardium is smaller on delayed enhanced MDCT than delayed enhanced MRI (arrowheads, B and D).

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Fig. 4D 40-year-old man. Comparison between delayed enhanced MDCT (A and C) and delayed enhanced MRI (B and D) in short-axis views (A and B) and vertical long-axis views (C and D). Good visual correlation is found between delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI for myocardial contrast uptake (arrows). Nevertheless, no-reflow zone (arrowhead, A) is underestimated by delayed enhanced MDCT because lack of contrast enhancement within immediate subendocardial myocardium is smaller on delayed enhanced MDCT than delayed enhanced MRI (arrowheads, B and D).

Finally, a significant correlation was found between the number of involved segments and the initial creatine kinase level and maximal troponin level (p < 0.002). Similarly, correlations between grade of transmural extent and infarct size and between creatine kinase and maximal troponin levels were in the same range (p < 0.002) (Figs. 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 5E, and 5F).

Discussion
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Our study confirms the feasibility of using delayed contrast-enhanced CT scans obtained 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. 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.

Delayed contrast uptake in infarcted myocardium after IV iodine contrast injection was initially reported by Paul et al. [4]. Lardo et al. [5] reported both excellent localization of contrast uptake to the region of infarct and excellent determination of the extent of infarction in an animal model when compared with histology results. Furthermore, CT has been reported to show good correlation with MRI in both animal and human models [6, 14, 15] with respect to uptake of IV contrast material (gadolinium vs iodine) in infarcted myocardium [16]. Given that MRI has already been validated in the assessment of the extent of myocardial infarct [2], this suggests that CT may also be useful in this evaluation.

The results of our study confirm that in the emergency setting delayed enhanced MDCT can be used to assess the number of involved segments and to quantify transmural extent and infarct size with the same accuracy as delayed enhanced MRI and without the need for an additional contrast injection.

Also, the strong correlation between the extent of myocardial contrast uptake on delayed enhanced MDCT and peak creatine kinase and troponin levels indirectly supports this conclusion because these laboratory values are related to infarct size [1719].

Despite good general agreement between the MRI and CT findings, some discrepancies exist. The sensitivity of CT (≈ 90%) is somewhat lower than the specificity, indicating that some segments showing delayed enhancement on MRI were missed on CT. This finding is likely because CT is less able to distinguish involved myocardium from healthy myocardium (mean involved-to-healthy myocardium signal ratio is smaller on CT than MRI) particularly at the periphery of infarcted regions. Also, despite its excellent specificity, CT overestimates infarct size in some cases. Blooming artifact, as seen in Figures 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D, can lead to overestimation of infarct size, particularly with regard to the extent of transmural enhancement.

Analysis of sparing of the subendocardial myocardium in the infarcted territory did not show the same correlation as hyperenhancement. Delayed enhanced MDCT appears to underestimate these regions compared with MRI. There are several possible explanations for this occurrence. First, the intensity of contrast uptake on delayed enhanced MDCT in the infarcted zone may partially mask the relatively hypoenhanced subendocardial region because of blooming artifact. Also, delayed enhanced MDCT and delayed enhanced MRI were not performed on the same day. Microvascular obstruction, which produces regions of hypoenhancement within an infarct, may not have been present initially when delayed enhanced MDCT was performed because no-reflow is a dynamic process [20, 21]. Finally, direct injection of a coronary artery during angiography could possibly produce deeper diffusion of contrast material into the infarcted area compared with the IV injection used with MRI. Furthermore, the delay between injection and imaging is longer for MDCT than for MRI. This longer delay may lead to increased diffusion of contrast material on MDCT because the recirculation time is longer than that of MRI (average = 22 minutes for CT vs 10 minutes for MRI), particularly for low-reflow zones [22].

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Fig. 5A Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and biologicaI findings. Correlation between admission creatine kinase (A–C) and maximum troponin (D–F) levels with number of involved segments (A and D), grade of transmural extent (B and E), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C and F). For creatine kinase and maximum troponin levels, r2 values are 0.53, 0.53, 0.57, 0.58, and 0.46, 0.44, respectively, for number of involved segments, transmural grade extent, and volume of infarcted myocardium analysis.

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Fig. 5B Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and biologicaI findings. Correlation between admission creatine kinase (A–C) and maximum troponin (D–F) levels with number of involved segments (A and D), grade of transmural extent (B and E), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C and F). For creatine kinase and maximum troponin levels, r2 values are 0.53, 0.53, 0.57, 0.58, and 0.46, 0.44, respectively, for number of involved segments, transmural grade extent, and volume of infarcted myocardium analysis.

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Fig. 5C Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and biologicaI findings. Correlation between admission creatine kinase (A–C) and maximum troponin (D–F) levels with number of involved segments (A and D), grade of transmural extent (B and E), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C and F). For creatine kinase and maximum troponin levels, r2 values are 0.53, 0.53, 0.57, 0.58, and 0.46, 0.44, respectively, for number of involved segments, transmural grade extent, and volume of infarcted myocardium analysis.

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Fig. 5D Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and biologicaI findings. Correlation between admission creatine kinase (A–C) and maximum troponin (D–F) levels with number of involved segments (A and D), grade of transmural extent (B and E), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C and F). For creatine kinase and maximum troponin levels, r2 values are 0.53, 0.53, 0.57, 0.58, and 0.46, 0.44, respectively, for number of involved segments, transmural grade extent, and volume of infarcted myocardium analysis.

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Fig. 5E Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and biologicaI findings. Correlation between admission creatine kinase (A–C) and maximum troponin (D–F) levels with number of involved segments (A and D), grade of transmural extent (B and E), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C and F). For creatine kinase and maximum troponin levels, r2 values are 0.53, 0.53, 0.57, 0.58, and 0.46, 0.44, respectively, for number of involved segments, transmural grade extent, and volume of infarcted myocardium analysis.

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Fig. 5F Comparison of delayed enhanced MDCT and biologicaI findings. Correlation between admission creatine kinase (A–C) and maximum troponin (D–F) levels with number of involved segments (A and D), grade of transmural extent (B and E), and volume of infarcted myocardium (C and F). For creatine kinase and maximum troponin levels, r2 values are 0.53, 0.53, 0.57, 0.58, and 0.46, 0.44, respectively, for number of involved segments, transmural grade extent, and volume of infarcted myocardium analysis.

The intensity of myocardial enhancement depends on multiple factors. In our study, because the examinations were performed after PCI without an additional contrast injection, these variables include the volume of contrast material given and the time between the last injection and image acquisition. But the lack of correlation between these factors and the intensity of myocardial enhancement underline the fact that other elements, such as a delay in patient management or previous development of collateral flow, may play an important role. However, injection of high doses of contrast material directly into the infarcted region during angiography may counterbalance potential inadequacies of the delay between injection and scanning. Indeed, good image quality was obtained in this study up to 45 minutes after contrast injection as compared with the typical delay of 5–10 minutes with standard CT infarct imaging [16].

Given that the time to perform most examinations was only approximately 10 minutes, MDCT using our technique did not appear to significantly interfere with acute patient care. Radiation, however, is still an important issue. Although MRI involves no ionizing radiation, except for a few highly specialized units [23] MRI is not a practical technique to use in an acute setting. With that limitation in mind, CT appears to be a useful tool to fill the role of immediate postinfarct imaging because nuclear medicine techniques and stress echocardiography, also used clinically for the assessment of viability and risk stratification in acute myocardial infarction [24], are also not practical in the emergency setting. Using a protocol specifically designed for postinfarct imaging, we were able to lower radiation exposure to less than 5.1 mSv. An additional reduction of the dose should be achievable using prospective gating instead of retrospective gating as in our study.

One of the limitations of this study is the inclusion of only patients with total or subtotal coronary artery obstruction (TIMI 0 or 1 at admission). A larger study including patients with higher TIMI scores is needed to assess the accuracy of CT in patients with small infarcts. Another limitation of our study is the variability of IV contrast material administered and the time between contrast injection and acquisition of images. However, because this study was performed in the emergency setting, these parameters were not adjustable.

Another limitation is that we did not assess wall motion and left ventricular function on CT. This element could be of interest because Sato et al. [25] recently reported that left ventricular function at acute phase and at 6-month follow-up was significantly lower in patients with extensive transmural enhancement of the myocardium on CT. A dedicated study should be conducted to assess this point because there are numerous different issues including the relatively low temporal resolution of CT or the low spatial resolution due to the low kilovoltage we used.

In conclusion, when performed immediately after PCI and successful angioplasty of an occluded coronary artery, MDCT appears to be as accurate as MRI in the assessment of myocardial infarct size in patients with a low TIMI score on admission. Myocardial enhancement remains detectable even 45 minutes after directed contrast injection during angioplasty, obviating further contrast injection. Despite the fact that MDCT may underestimate the no-reflow phenomenon, MDCT appears to be a useful technique with which to assess myocardial infarct size in the emergency setting.

L. Boussel is supported by the Société Française de Radiologie, 20 Avenue RAPP, 75007 Paris, France.

Address correspondence to L. Boussel ().

We thank Philippe Coulon from Philips Healthcare, Suresnes, France. We also thank Delphine Gamondes and Mohamed Aissat from the Department of Radiology-Louis Pradel Hospital, Lyon, France.

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