Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: An underdiagnosed clinical entity—A primer for cardiac imagers

Anum Aslam*, Jadranka Stojanovska, Usman S. Khokhar, Richard L. Weinberg, Santhi K. Ganesh, Troy Labounty, Nadia R. Sutton, Smita Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) is a nonathero-sclerotic cause of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women that has gained increasing awareness in recent years. Its diagnosis presents a challenge. Invasive coronary angiography is the primary imaging modality for diagnosing SCAD; however, it carries risk in these patients, who have an increased predisposition to com-plications. Advances in CT technology enable robust noninvasive evaluation of the coronary arteries at low radiation doses and have been increasingly utilized for the diagnosis or resolution of SCAD, in hemodynamically stable patients or when diagnosis of SCAD is uncertain at invasive angiography, particularly in proximal vessels. However, criteria for the diagnosis of SCAD with use of coronary CT angiography (CCTA) have not been currently established, and sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis have not yet been defined. The appearance of SCAD at CCTA can be subtle and can be missed, especially in distal small-caliber coronary arteries; hence utilization of other noninvasive imaging multimodalities may help solve this diagnostic challenge. Accurate and prompt diagnosis is vital, as management of SCAD differs significantly from that of traditional atherosclerotic acute coronary syndromes, with conservative management preferred for the majority of SCAD patients, and invasive treatment reserved for those with ongoing or recurrent ischemia, heart failure, or hemodynamic compromise. The goal of this review is twofold: (a) to discuss the potential role of CCTA in the diagnosis of SCAD, and (b) to discuss the role of multimodality imaging that may improve diagnostic yield, guide management, and enable subsequent surveillance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1897-1915
Number of pages19
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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