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Open Access Research article

Defining the mid-diastolic imaging period for cardiac CT – lessons from tissue Doppler echocardiography

James M Otton12, Justin Phan2, Michael Feneley12, Chung-yao Yu1, Neville Sammel1 and Jane McCrohon12*

Author Affiliations

1 Cardiology Department, St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, Sydney, 2010, AUSTRALIA

2 University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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BMC Medical Imaging 2013, 13:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2342-13-5

Published: 1 February 2013



Aggressive dose reduction strategies for cardiac CT require the prospective selection of limited cardiac phases. At lower heart rates, the period of mid-diastole is typically selected for image acquisition. We aimed to identify the effect of heart rate on the optimal CT acquisition phase within the period of mid-diastole.


We utilized high temporal resolution tissue Doppler to precisely measure coronary motion within diastole. Tissue-Doppler waveforms of the myocardium corresponding to the location of the circumflex artery (100 patients) and mid-right coronary arteries (50 patients) and the duration and timing of coronary motion were measured. Using regression analysis an equation was derived for the timing of the period of minimal coronary motion within the RR interval. In a validation set of 50 clinical cardiac CT examinations, we assessed coronary motion artifact and the effect of using a mid-diastolic imaging target that was adjusted according to heart rate vs a fixed 75% phase target.


Tissue Doppler analysis shows the period of minimal cardiac motion suitable for CT imaging decreases almost linearly as the RR interval decreases, becoming extinguished at an average heart rate of 91 bpm for the circumflex (LCX) and 78 bpm for the right coronary artery (RCA). The optimal imaging phase has a strong linear relationship with RR duration (R2 = 0.92 LCX, 0.89 RCA). The optimal phase predicted by regression analysis of the tissue-Doppler waveforms increases from 74% at a heart rate of 55 bpm to 77% at 75 bpm. In the clinical CT validation set, the optimal CT acquisition phase similarly occurred later with increasing heart rate. When the selected cardiac phase was adjusted according to heart rate the result was closer to the optimal phase than using a fixed 75% phase. While this effect was statistically significant (p < 0.01 RCA/LCx), the mean effect of heart-rate adjustment was minor relative to typical beat-to-beat variability and available precision of clinical phase selection.


High temporal resolution imaging of coronary motion can be used to predict the optimal acquisition phase in cardiac CT. The optimal phase for cardiac CT imaging within mid-diastole increases with increasing heart rate although the magnitude of change is small.

Cardiac CT; Image quality; Heart rate; Tissue Doppler; Echocardiography