Prevalence of non-cardiac findings in a large series of patients undergoing cardiac multi-detector computed tomography scans

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The purpose of our study was to determine the prevalence of non-cardiac findings in a large series of patients undergoing contrast-enhanced cardiac multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) scans. Non-cardiac findings were classified according to the organ of involvement and level of significance. We retrospectively reviewed scans and reports of 1,061 patients performed between 1 April 2004 and 31 April 2006. Non-cardiac findings were considered significant if they warranted further radiological or clinical follow-up. A total of 103 non-cardiac findings were reported in 85 (8.0%) of the 1,061 patients. Of these lesions, 48 (46.7%) were significant and 55 (53.3%) were not. The significant lesions were found in 33 of the 1,061 patients (3.1%). Among the significant abnormalities, the three most common were pulmonary nodules (16.7%), emphysema (16.7%) and possible hepatic carcinomas (12.6%). Patients with non-cardiac findings were significantly older than those without (mean age 60 ± 6 years vs. 55 ± 8 years; P < 0.0001). The prevalence of active smoking was significantly higher in patients with non-cardiac findings (28.2 vs. 17.8%; P = 0.03). The prevalence of non-cardiac abnormalities detected by cardiac MDCT was 8% and about half of these findings were deemed significant. These lesions commonly occurred in the lungs and the liver. Age and active smoking were predictive of the presence of non-cardiac abnormalities.

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