Value and limitations of computer analysis of digital subtraction angiography in the assessment of coronary flow reserve

S. E. Nissen, J. L. Elion, D. C. Booth, J. Evans, A. N. DeMaria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Conventional coronary angiography has significant limitations in quantifying the severity and functional significance of coronary stenoses. However, coronary reactive hyperemia is an excellent physiologic indicator of coronary reserve. Digital subtraction angiography offers the potential to analyze coronary blood flow dynamics quantitatively. Therefore we assessed the accuracy of digital angiographic methods to detect and quantify reductions in coronary flow reserve secondary to stenoses of varying magnitude in an experimental canine preparation. Studies were performed in nine anesthetized open-chest dogs with an electromagnetic flow (EMF) probe and two pneumatic occluders positioned on the left circumflex coronary artery. One occluder served to induce reactive hyperemia by temporary total occlusion, while the other served to produce variable gradations of stenosis. Digital angiography was performed after the subselective injection of contrast under basal conditions and during reactive hyperemia. Time-intensity curves were obtained from digital angiograms for both a coronary and a myocardial region of interest. Measurements included area under the curve, time to peak contrast, and contrast disappearance rate. An index of coronary reserve was computed as the ratio of hyperemic to basal measurements for each of these methods. Coronary blood flow ranged from 6.5 to 142 ml/min, with hyperemic to basal EMF flow ratios of 0.80 to 4.2:1. The index derived from contrast decay rate showed a poor correlation with EMF (r = .34). The correlation between measurements of time to peak myocardial contrast and coronary blood flow was r = .68 (y = 0.16x + 0.97). The area under the time-intensity curve from a coronary region of interest showed a close correlation with coronary blood flow (y = 0.91x + 0.1, r = .86). Thus estimates of coronary reserve by computer analysis of digital subtraction angiograms can yield information regarding the physiologic consequences of coronary stenoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-571
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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