Non-Invasive Imaging in Coronary Artery Disease Including Anatomical and Functional Evaluation of Ischaemia and Viability Assessment

Pakkal M, Raj V, Mccann GP

Coronary artery disease has an important impact on the morbidity and mortality statistics and health economics worldwide. Diagnosis of coronary artery disease is important in risk stratification and guides further management. Invasive coronary angiography is the traditional method of imaging the coronary arteries and remains the gold standard. It detects luminal stenosis but provides little information about the vessel wall or plaques. Besides, not all anatomical lesions are functionally significant. This has lent itself to a wide variety of imaging techniques to identify and assess a flow-limiting stenosis. The approach to diagnosis of coronary artery disease is broadly based on anatomical and functional imaging. Coronary CT and MRI of coronary arteries provide an anatomical assessment of coronary stenosis. Coronary calcium score and coronary CT assess subclinical atherosclerosis by assessing the atherosclerotic plaque burden. The haemodynamic significance of a coronary artery stenosis can be assessed by stress radioisotope studies, stress echocardiography and stress MRI. The more recent literature also focuses on plaque assessment and identification of plaques that are likely to give rise to an acute coronary syndrome. There is an explosion of literature on the merits and limitations of the different imaging modalities. This review article will provide an overview of all the imaging modalities in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.