Impact of noncardiac findings in patients undergoing CT coronary angiography: a substudy of the Scottish computed tomography of the heart (SCOT-HEART) trial

Michelle C. Williams, Amanda Hunter, Anoop S. V. Shah, John Dreisbach, Jonathan R Weir McCall, Mark T Macmillan, Rachael Kirkbride, Fiona Hawke, Andrew Baird, Saeed Mirsadraee, Edwin J R van Beek, David E Newby, Giles Roditi

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OBJECTIVES: Noncardiac findings are common on coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA). We assessed the clinical impact of noncardiac findings, and potential changes to surveillance scans with the application of new lung nodule guidelines.

METHODS: This substudy of the SCOT-HEART randomized controlled trial assessed noncardiac findings identified on CCTA. Clinically significant noncardiac findings were those causing symptoms or requiring further investigation, follow-up or treatment. Lung nodule follow-up was undertaken following the 2005 Fleischner guidelines. The potential impact of the 2015 British Thoracic Society (BTS) and the 2017 Fleischner guidelines was assessed.

RESULTS: CCTA was performed in 1,778 patients and noncardiac findings were identified in 677 (38%). In 173 patients (10%) the abnormal findings were clinically significant and in 55 patients (3%) the findings were the cause of symptoms. Follow-up imaging was recommended in 136 patients (7.6%) and additional clinic consultations were organized in 46 patients (2.6%). Malignancy was diagnosed in 7 patients (0.4%). Application of the new lung nodule guidelines would have reduced the number of patients undergoing a follow-up CT scan: 68 fewer with the 2015 BTS guidelines and 78 fewer with the 2017 Fleischner guidelines; none of these patients subsequently developed malignancy.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinically significant noncardiac findings are identified in 10% of patients undergoing CCTA. Application of new lung nodule guidelines will reduce the cost of surveillance, without the risk of missing malignancy.

KEY POINTS: • Clinically significant noncardiac findings occur in 10% of patients undergoing CCTA. • Noncardiac findings may be an important treatable cause of chest pain • Further imaging investigations for noncardiac findings were recommended in 8% of patients after CCTA. • New lung nodule follow-up guidelines will result in cost savings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Radiology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Journal Article


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