Serial analysis of coronary artery disease progression by artificial intelligence assisted coronary computed tomography angiography: early clinical experience

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMC cardiovascular disorders








Artificial intelligence; Atheroma plaque characteristics; Case report; Coronary artery disease progression; Coronary computed tomography angiography


BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that quantitative evaluation of coronary artery plaque on Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) can identify patients at risk of cardiac events. Recent demonstration of artificial intelligence (AI) assisted CCTA shows that it allows for evaluation of CAD and plaque characteristics. Based on publications to date, we are the first group to perform AI augmented CCTA serial analysis of changes in coronary plaque characteristics over 13 years. We evaluated whether AI assisted CCTA can accurately assess changes in coronary plaque progression, which has potential clinical prognostic value in CAD management. CASE PRESENTATION: 51-year-old male with hypertension, hyperlipidemia and family history of myocardial infarction, underwent CCTA exams for anginal symptom evaluation and CAD assessment. 5 CCTAs were performed between 2008 and 2021. Quantitative atherosclerosis plaque characterization (APC) using an AI platform (Cleerly), was performed to assess CAD burden. Total plaque volume (TPV) change-over-time demonstrated decreasing low-density non-calcified plaque (LD-NCP) with increasing overall NCP and calcified-plaque (CP). Examination of individual segments revealed a proximal-LAD lesion with decreasing NCP over-time and increasing CP. In contrast, although the D2/D1/ramus lesions showed increasing stenosis, CP, and total plaque, there were no significant differences in NCP over-time, with stable NCP and increased CP. Remarkably, we also consistently visualized small plaques, which typically readers may interpret as false positives due to artifacts. But in this case, they reappeared each study in the same locations, generally progressing in size and demonstrating expected plaque transformation over-time. CONCLUSIONS: We performed the first AI augmented CCTA based serial analysis of changes in coronary plaque characteristics over 13 years. We were able to consistently assess progression of plaque volumes, stenosis, and APCs with this novel methodology. We found a significant increase in TPV composed of decreasing LD-NCP, and increasing NCP and CP, with variations in the evolution of APCs between vessels. Although the significance of evolving APCs needs to be investigated, this case demonstrates AI-based CCTA analysis can serve as valuable clinical tool to accurately define unique CAD characteristics over time. Prospective trails are needed to assess whether quantification of APCs provides prognostic capabilities to improve clinical care.