Original paper| Volume 45, P52-58, January 2018

Non-invasive characterization of coronary artery atherosclerotic plaque using dual energy CT: Explanation in ex-vivo samples


      • This paper uses material (plaque) specific and machine independent parameters.
      • Result of DECT was compared with pathology to assess their differentiating capability.
      • EDS revealed significant compositional difference in vulnerable and stable plaque.
      • Final study group consisted of total 32 non-calcified plaque samples.



      In this study non-calcified plaque composition is evaluated by Dual Energy CT (DECT). Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) has been used to study the Plaque composition. An attempt has been made to explain the DECT results with EDS analysis.


      Thirty-two ex-vivo human cadaver coronary artery samples were scanned by DECT and data was evaluated to calculate their effective atomic number and electron density (Zeff & ρe) by inversion method. Result of DECT was compared with pathology to assess their differentiating capability. The EDS study was used to explain DECT outcome.


      DECT study was able to differentiate vulnerable plaque from stable with 87% accuracy (area under the curve (AUC):0.85 [95% confidence interval {CI}:0.73–0.98}] and Kappa Coefficient (KC):0.75 with respect to pathology. EDS revealed significant compositional difference in vulnerable and stable plaque at p < .05. The weight percentage of higher atomic number elements like F, Na, Mg, S, Si, P, Cl, K and Ca was found to be slightly more in vulnerable plaques as compared to a stable plaque. EDS also revealed a significantly increased weight percentage of nitrogen in stable plaques.


      The EDS results were able to explain the outcomes of DECT study. This study conclusively explains the physics of DECT as a tool to assess the nature of non-calcified plaques as vulnerable and stable. The method proposed in this study allows for differentiation between vulnerable and stable plaque using DECT.


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