Fractional Flow Reserve and Coronary Computed Tomographic Angiography: A Review and Critical Analysis

Harvey S. Hecht, Jagat Narula, William F. Fearon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Invasive fractional flow reserve (FFR) is now the gold standard for intervention. Noninvasive functional imaging analyses derived from coronary computed tomographic angiography (CTA) offer alternatives for evaluating lesion-specific ischemia. CT-FFR, CT myocardial perfusion imaging, and transluminal attenuation gradient/corrected contrast opacification have been studied using invasive FFR as the gold standard. CT-FFR has demonstrated significant improvement in specificity and positive predictive value compared with CTA alone for predicting FFR of ≤0.80, as well as decreasing the frequency of nonobstructive invasive coronary angiography. High-risk plaque characteristics have also been strongly implicated in abnormal FFR. Myocardial computed tomographic perfusion is an alternative method with promising results; it involves more radiation and contrast. Transluminal attenuation gradient/corrected contrast opacification is more controversial and may be more related to vessel diameter than stenosis. Important considerations remain: (1) improvement of CTA quality to decrease unevaluable studies, (2) is the diagnostic accuracy of CT-FFR sufficient? (3) can CT-FFR guide intervention without invasive FFR confirmation? (4) what are the long-term outcomes of CT-FFR-guided treatment and how do they compare with other functional imaging-guided paradigms? (5) what degree of stenosis on CTA warrants CT-FFR? (6) how should high-risk plaque be incorporated into treatment decisions? (7) how will CT-FFR influence other functional imaging test utilization, and what will be the effect on the practice of cardiology? (8) will a workstation-based CT-FFR be mandatory? Rapid progress to date suggests that CTA-based lesion-specific ischemia will be the gatekeeper to the cardiac catheterization laboratory and will transform the world of intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-316
Number of pages17
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 8 Jul 2016


  • Atherosclerotic plaque
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Coronary angiography
  • Myocardial perfusion imaging
  • Sensitivity and specificity


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