The University said that CT scanners have been used for the non-invasive detection of blockages or narrowing of the heart blood vessels. Based on the findings of the researchers, this latest CT scanner generation has potential to evolve into a standalone method for imaging all aspects of coronary heart disease.

Radiologists and cardiologists from MUSC, led by Joseph Schoepf, demonstrated that dual source CT scanners allow doctors to image both, the heart vessels and the heart blood supply with a non-invasive CT scan as the test. The test is based on the ‘shuttle’ mode of the dual-source CT scanner, which means that the scanner performs several quick sweeps over a patient’s heart during the infusion of an iodine-based contrast medium (dye).

Like most techniques that are used for imaging the heart, the dual source CT scans also expose patients to radiation, although new protection techniques on the new scanner reduce radiation compared to older CT systems.

Schoepf, professor of radiology and medicine and director of cardiovascular imaging, said: “With this technique we can observe and measure the passage of the dye through the heart muscle and detect areas that do not receive enough blood. The beauty of this approach is that the same machine can be used to non-invasively look at the heart blood vessels for narrowing or blockages.”

“This would allow detecting or excluding narrowing or blockages of the heart blood vessels without the need for an invasive catheter, while at the same time determining the blood supply of the heart muscle without the need for radioactive dye. In addition the viability of damaged heart muscle tissue can be assessed, and the success of bypass surgery predicted, all with non-invasive CT as a single test.”