Original Investigation|Articles in Press

Cardiac Incidental Findings on Abdominopelvic Computed Tomography: Prevalence and Association with Subsequent Cardiovascular Events

Published:March 03, 2023DOI:


      The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of reportable cardiac findings detected on abdominopelvic CTs and the association with subsequent cardiovascular events.

      Materials and Methods

      We performed a retrospective search of electronic medical record of patients who underwent abdominopelvic CT between November 2006 and November 2011 with a clinical history of upper abdominal pain. A radiologist blinded to the original CT report reviewed all 222 cases for the presence of pertinent reportable cardiac findings. The original CT report was also evaluated for documentation of pertinent reportable cardiac findings. The following findings were recorded on all CTs: presence of coronary calcification, fatty metaplasia, ventricle wall thinning and thickening, valve calcification or prosthesis, heart/chamber enlargement, aneurysm, mass, thrombus, device, air within ventricles, abnormal pericardium, prior sternotomy, and adhesions if prior sternotomy. Medical records were reviewed to identify cardiovascular events on follow-up in patients with the presence or absence of cardiac findings. We compared the distribution findings in patients with and without cardiac events using the Wilcoxon test (for continuous variables) and the Pearson's chi-squared test (for categorical variables).


      Eighty-five of 222 (38.3%) patients (52.7% females, median age 52.5 years) had at least one pertinent reportable cardiac finding on the abdominopelvic CT, with a total of 140 findings in this group. From the total 140 findings, 100 (71.4%) were not reported. The most common findings seen on abdominal CTs were: coronary artery calcification (66 patients), heart or chamber enlargement (25), valve abnormality (19), sternotomy and surgery signs (9), LV wall thickening (7), device (5), LV wall thinning (2), pericardial effusion (5), and others (3). After a mean follow-up of 43.9 months, 19 cardiovascular events were found in the cohort (transient ischemic attack, cerebrovascular accident, myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, acute arrhythmia, palpitation, syncope and acute chest pain). Only 1 event occurred in the group of patients with no incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings (1/137 = 0.73%). All other 18 events occurred in patients with incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings (18/85 = 21.2%), which was significantly different (p < 0.0001). One out of the total 19 events in the overall group (5.24%) occurred in a patient with no incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings while 18 of 19 total events (94.74%) occurred with patients with incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings, which was also significantly different (p < 0.001). Fifteen of the total events (79%) occurred in patients in whom the incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings were not reported, which was significantly different (p < 0.001) from the four events that occurred in patients in whom the incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings were reported or had no findings.


      Incidental pertinent reportable cardiac findings are common on abdominal CTs and are frequently not reported by radiologists. These findings are of clinical relevance since patients with pertinent reportable cardiac findings have a significantly higher incidence of cardiovascular events on follow-up.

      Key Words

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