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BACKGROUND: The computed tomographic (CT) attenuation of coronary atherosclerotic plaque has been proposed as a marker for tissue characterization and may thus potentially contribute to the assessment of plaque instability.
OBJECTIVE: We analyzed the influence of reconstruction parameters on CT attenuation measured within noncalcified coronary atherosclerotic lesions.
METHODS: Seventy-two patients were studied by contrast-enhanced dual-source CT coronary angiography (330 millisecond rotation time, 2 x 64 x 0.6 mm collimation, 120 kV, 400 mAs, 80 mL contrast agent intravenously at 6 mL/s), and a total of 100 distinct noncalcified coronary atherosclerotic plaques were identified. Image data sets were reconstructed with a soft (B20f), medium soft (B26f), and sharp (B46f) reconstruction kernel. With the medium soft kernel, image data sets were reconstructed with a slice thickness/increment of 0.6/0.3 mm, 0.75/0.4 mm, and 1.0/0.5mm. Within each plaque, CT attenuation was measured. RESULTS: Mean CT attenuation using the medium soft kernel was 109 +/- 58 HU (range, -16 to 168 HU).
Using the soft kernel, mean density was 113 +/- 57 HU (range, -13 to 169 HU), and using a sharp kernel, mean density was 97 +/- 49 HU (range, -23 to 131 HU). Similarly, reconstructed slice thickness had a significant influence on the measured CT attenuation (mean values for medium soft kernel: 102 +/- 52 HU versus 109 +/- 58 HU versus 113 +/- 57 HU for 0.6-mm, 0.75-mm, and 1.0-mm slice thickness).
The differences between 0.75-mm and 0.6-mm slice thickness (P = 0.05) and between medium sharp and sharp kernels (P = 0.02) were statistically significant.
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