Long-term prognostic value of morphological plaque features on coronary computed tomography angiography

Tom Finck, Antonija Stojanovic, Albrecht Will, Eva Hendrich, Stefan Martinoff, Jörg Hausleiter, Martin Hadamitzky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Aims: To investigate the incremental prognostic value of morphological plaque features beyond clinical risk and coronary stenosis levels. Although associated with the degree of coronary stenosis, most cardiac events occur on the basis of ruptured non-obstructive plaques and consecutive vessel thrombosis. As such, identification of vulnerable plaques is paramount for cardiovascular risk prediction and treatment decisions. Methods and results: A total of 1615 patients with suspected but not previously diagnosed coronary artery disease (CAD) were examined by coronary computed tomography angiography and morphological plaque features were assessed. Mean follow-up was 10.5 (interquartile range 9.2-11.4) years. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used for the composite endpoint of cardiac death and non-fatal myocardial infarction. The study endpoint was reached in 51 patients (36 cardiac deaths, 15 non-fatal myocardial infarctions). In addition to quantitative parameters (presence of any calcified/non-calcified plaque or elevated plaque load), morphologic plaque features such as a spotty or gross calcification pattern and napkin-ring sign (NRS) were predictive for events. However, only spotty calcified plaques and NRS could confer additive prognostic value beyond clinical risk and coronary stenosis level. In a stepwise approach, endpoint prediction beyond clinical risk (Morise score) could be improved by inclusion of CAD severity (χ2 of 27.5, P < 0.001) and further discrimination for spotty calcified plaques (χ2 of 3.89, P = 0.049). Conclusion: Improved cardiovascular risk prediction beyond clinical risk and coronary stenosis levels can be made by discriminating for the presence of spotty calcified plaques. Thus, an intensified prophylactic anti-atherosclerotic treatment appears to be warranted in patients with coronary plaques that show spotty calcifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-248
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Heart Journal Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • coronary artery disease
  • coronary computed tomography angiography
  • high-risk plaque features
  • prognosis
  • vulnerable plaque


Dive into the research topics of 'Long-term prognostic value of morphological plaque features on coronary computed tomography angiography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this