European Radiology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 1714–1723 | Cite as

Extracardiac findings on coronary computed tomography angiography in patients without significant coronary artery disease

  • Philipp Karius
  • Alexander Lembcke
  • Felix C. Sokolowski
  • Ivan Dario Perez Gandara
  • Alejandra Rodríguez
  • Bernd Hamm
  • Marc DeweyEmail author



To analyse extracardiac findings in patients without significant coronary artery disease (CAD) in general and in symptomatic patients in particular.


We searched the Radiology Information System database for coronary computed tomography angiographies (CTA) performed from 2000−2014 and retrospectively enrolled 3,898 patients without significant CAD (coronary stenosis < 50%) in CTA. In 2,330 symptomatic patients, we analysed the spectrum of extracardiac findings and identified pathologies potentially explaining chest pain. Finally, we investigated variables affecting the number of extracardiac findings detected in CTA.


Overall extracardiac findings were found in 1,177 patients (30.2%; 95%CI, 28.8−31.7%). 94 patients (2.4%; 95%CI, 2.0−2.9%) had extracardiac findings with a recommendation for follow-up, sixteen patients (0.4%; 95%CI, 0.3−0.7%) had incidental urgent, and another three patients (0.1%; 95%CI, 0.1−0.2%) had incidental malignant extracardiac findings. 185 of 2,330 symptomatic patients (7.9%; 95%CI, 6.9−9.1%) revealed extracardiac findings potentially explaining chest pain after exclusion of significant CAD. The number of extracardiac findings increased significantly with patient age (p < 0.001) and the cumulative experience of the CT reader (p < 0.001).


30.2% of patients undergoing CTA for exclusion of CAD had ECF, and 7.9% of symptomatic patients without significant CAD on their examination had findings that could potentially explain their symptoms.

Key Points

• Of patients undergoing CTA, 2.8% have relevant incidental extracardiac findings.

• CTA could identify the differential diagnosis of chest pain when excluding significant CAD.

• Patient age and reader’s professional experience influence the number of detected ECFs.


Tomography, x-ray computed Coronary angiography Incidental findings Chest pain Angina pectoris 



Coronary artery disease


Coronary computed tomography angiography


Extracardiac finding




Field of view


Multiple-detector computed tomography


Noncardiac chest pain


Positron emission tomography


Radiology Information System


Single-photon emission computed tomography



Prof. Dewey has received grant support from the Heisenberg Program of the DFG for a professorship (DE 1361/14-1).

Compliance with ethical standards


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Prof. Dr. Marc Dewey

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare relationships with the following companies:

Prof. Dewey has received grant support from the Heisenberg Program of the DFG for a professorship (DE 1361/14-1), the FP7 Program of the European Commission for the randomized multicentre DISCHARGE trial (603266-2, HEALTH-2012.2.4.-2), the European Regional Development Fund (20072013 2/05, 20072013 2/48), the German Heart Foundation/German Foundation of Heart Research (F/23/08, F/27/10), the Joint Program from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for meta-analyses (01KG1013, 01KG1110, 01KG1210), GE Healthcare, Bracco, Guerbet, and Toshiba Medical Systems.

Prof. Dewey has received lecture fees from Toshiba Medical Systems, Guerbet, Cardiac MR Academy Berlin, and Bayer (Schering-Berlex).

Prof. Dewey is a consultant to Guerbet and one of the principal investigators of multicentre studies (CORE-64 and 320) on coronary CT angiography sponsored by Toshiba Medical Systems. He is also the editor of Coronary CT Angiography and Cardiac CT, both published by Springer, and offers hands-on workshops on cardiovascular imaging ( Prof. Dewey is a consultant to the editor of Radiology and an associate editor of European Radiology. Institutional master research agreements exist with Siemens Medical Solutions, Philips Medical Systems, and Toshiba Medical Systems. The terms of these arrangements are managed by the legal department of Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Prof. Dr. Bernd Hamm has received research grants from GE Healthcare, Schering, Siemens Medical Solutions, and Toshiba Medical Systems. Speakers Bureau: Siemens Medical Solutions and Schering.

Statistics and biometry

One of the authors has significant statistical expertise.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board.

Ethical approval

Institutional Review Board approval was obtained.


• retrospective

Supplementary material

330_2018_5688_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Charite Medical SchoolHumboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universitat BerlinBerlinGermany

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