Editor's Note: Changing Cardiac Imaging

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Here’s a kind of riddle. How do you know when you’re in the presence of diehard cardiology professionals? When bountiful platters of sea scallops wrapped in bacon circulate without many takers.

I had that experience at the recent Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) meeting. While there weren’t many partaking in the heart-unfriendly hors d’oeuvres (although they looked incredible), the conference offered a generous spread of information on clinical applications of cardiac CT angiography, case presentations and updates on areas such as exam post-processing, radiation dose, plaque imaging, reimbursement and future developments including a 256-slice system and flat panel volume CT prototype in the works.

This month’s cover story — “ Cardiac CT Goes for the Gold Standard” — indulges the mind on the clinical and business matters surrounding this technology that is simply soaring in popularity. Sixty-four slice and Dual Source CT system installs are climbing fast, which is lucky for patients needing a fast, noninvasive, individualized risk assessment (at one-sixth the cost of a cardiac catheterization). Cardiac calcification, coronary calcification and anomalous coronary artery imaging are leading the clinical applications (see the chart in the story), while training and credentialing are essential components to getting CTA launched in more facilities around the country.

CTA studies could take off further if the wishes of the Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education (SHAPE) task-force report are taken to heart. The report recommends screening all at-risk men between the ages of 45 and 75 and all at-risk women age 55 to 75 years old for coronary plaque buildup and assess carotid wall thickness using both CT and ultrasound. Experts and representatives of the major cardiology societies debate the guidelines, but many acknowledge imaging deserves a bigger role in preventive cardiology.

And while imaging is the focus, you can’t take a comprehensive look at cardiac CT without evaluating your workflow, reporting and image management needs. Several early adopters show how it’s done — including facilities that are uniting the needs of radiology and cardiology — in “ Cardiovascular Information Systems: Powering Cardiology and Beyond."

I hope these are just the appetizers of what you’ll fancy in this issue. Enjoy!