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Waste not, want not: Getting the most from imaging procedures

(DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING) -- The amount of data obtained in a single MR or CT scan is mind-boggling. At least some of the data radiologists throw away could save patients money while reducing their exposure to radiation and risk of complications from invasive procedures.

“The same CT or MR scans that have been performed for other indications can be used to measure epicardial fat volume,” Dr. Paolo Raggi told me. “That is why this is such an easy piece of information to obtain.”

Easy—and possibly life-saving. Raggi, a radiologist and the director of the Emory Cardiac Imaging Center in Atlanta, has uncovered evidence that myocardial ischemia correlates more closely with epicardial adipose tissue volume than with coronary calcium score. The larger the volume of this fat that surrounds the heart, the more likely the patient has ischemia.

“This information may be used as a gatekeeper, in that it could help a cardiologist decide whether a patient should go on to have a nuclear stress test,” he said.

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