Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) is more accurate than conventional catheter angiography for identifying which adult patients face the greatest risk of sudden death from congenital abnormalities in the arteries supplying blood to the heart, according to a study in the September 2005 issue of Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions: Journal of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.
The study found that both EBCT and conventional x-ray angiography were able to detect the abnormalities–for example, a left coronary artery originating from the right side of the aorta, or vice versa–but EBCT trumped angiography in more than one-third of cases when determining whether the artery traveled perilously between the aorta and pulmonary artery, or followed a safer path around the two “great vessels.”
An artery that passes between the aorta and pulmonary artery makes a sharp bend at its origin. In addition, it can be squeezed between the great vessels as the heart beats. Under the right conditions–such as strenuous athletic activity–blood flow through the artery may be blocked, causing a heart attack or even sudden death.