Objectives: To compare the diagnostic performance of computed tomographic (CT) attenuation and CT attenuation ratio at different tube voltages for ex vivo plaque characterization. Materials and Methods: Human coronary arteries were obtained at the time of autopsy in 15 subjects. The coronary arteries were serially cut into 5-mm-long segments and scanned ex vivo using 4 sets of tube voltages and tube currents (80 kV, 660 mA; 100 kV, 500 mA; 120 kV, 400 mA; and 140 kV, 340 mA). The CT attenuation value at the center of each plaque was obtained, and the ratio of the CT attenuation value at the 80-kV setting divided by that at the 140-kV setting (Hounsfield ratio [HR], 80:140) was calculated. Separate receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were used to assess the usefulness of the CT attenuation value and the 80:140 HR for the differential diagnosis of lipid-rich plaques from other types of plaques. Results: A total of 93 coronary plaques were detected macroscopically. Histological examination revealed 39 lipid-rich, 24 calcified, and 30 fibrotic plaques. At all the tube voltages, the CT attenuation values of the lipid-rich plaques were lower than those of the calcified plaques, whereas the CT attenuation values of the lipid-rich and fibrotic plaques overlapped. An ROC analysis showed that the area under the curve (AUC) for the differential diagnosis of lipid-rich plaques from fibrotic plaques was 0.813 at 80 kV, 0.772 at 100 kV, 0.682 at 120 kV, or 0.651 at 140 kV. Regarding the 80:140 HR, the AUC was 0.952 (0.029). The AUC was significantly larger at 80 and 100 kV and 80:140 HR compared with the AUC at 120 kV. Conclusions: The diagnostic performance of CT analysis for ex vivo plaque characterization was superior at lower energy settings and using the dual-energy method.
- Computed tomography
- Radiation exposure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging