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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of 64-slice or higher computed tomography angiography as an alternative to invasive coronary angiography in the investigation of suspected coronary artery disease

Daniel C Paech* and Adèle R Weston

Author Affiliations

Health Technology Analysts Pty Ltd, 135 Rowntree St, Balmain NSW 2041, Australia

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2011, 11:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-11-32

Published: 16 June 2011



This systematic review summarized recent evidence pertaining to the clinical effectiveness of 64-slice or higher computed tomography angiography (CTA) in patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD). If CTA proves to be a successful diagnostic performance measure, it could prevent the use of invasive diagnostic procedures in some patients. This would provide multiple health and cost benefits, particularly for under resourced areas where invasive coronary angiography is not always available.


A systematic method of literature searching and selection was employed with searches limited to December 2006 to March 2009. Included studies were quality assessed using National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) diagnostic levels of evidence and a modified Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) tool. Individual and pooled diagnostic performance measures were calculated using standard meta-analytic techniques at the patient, vessel and segment level. A positive result was defined as greater than or equal to 50% stenosis.


Twenty-eight studies were included in the systematic review examining 3,674 patients. The primary meta-analysis at the patient-level indicated a sensitivity of 98.2% and specificity of 81.6%. The median (range) positive predictive value (PPV) was 90.5% (76%-100%) and negative predictive value (NPV) 99.0% (83%-100%). In all vessels, the pooled sensitivity was 94.9%, specificity 89.5%, and median (range) PPV 75.0% (53%-95%) and NPV 99.0% (93%-100%). At the individual artery level, overall diagnostic accuracy appeared to be slightly higher in the left main coronary artery and slightly lower in the left anterior descending and circumflex artery. In all segments, the sensitivity was 91.3%, specificity 94.0% and median (range) PPV 69.0% (44%-86%) and NPV 99.0% (98%-100%).


The high sensitivity indicates that CTA can effectively identify the majority of patients with significant coronary artery stenosis. The high NPV at the patient, vessel and segment level establishes CTA as an effective non-invasive alternative to invasive coronary angiography (ICA) for the exclusion of stenosis.