Electron beam tomography (EBT) directly competes with other non-invasive imaging modalities, such as multislice computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and echocardiography, in the diagnostic assessment of cardiac diseases. EBT is the gold standard for the detection and quantification of coronary calcium as a preclinical sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). Its standardized examination protocols and the broad experience with this method favor EBT. First results with multislice CT indicate that this new technology may be equivalent to EBT for coronary calcium studies. The principal value of CT-based coronary calcium measurements continues to be an issue of controversy amongst radiologists and cardiologists due to lack of prospective randomized trials. Coronary angiography with EBT is characterized by a high negative predictive value and, in addition, may be indicated in some patients with manifest CAD. It remains to be shown whether coronary angiography with multislice CT is reliable and accurate enough to be introduced into the routine work-up, to replace some of the many strictly diagnostic coronary catheterizations in Germany and elsewhere. Assessment of coronary stent patency with EBT is associated with several problems and in our opinion cannot be advocated as a routine procedure. EBT may be recommended for the evaluation of coronary bypasses to look for bypass occlusions and significant stenoses, which, however, can be equally well achieved with multislice CT. Quantification of myocardial perfusion with EBT could not replace MRI or other modalities in this field. EBT has proven to be accurate, reliable and in some instances equivalent to MRI, which is the gold standard for the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of cardiac function. Some disadvantages, not the least of which is the limited distribution of electron beam scanners, favor MRI for functional assessment of the heart.
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View details for PubMedID 14712404