"By combining the physiological (or functional) images of the blood flow to the heart muscle at stress and at rest with the high-resolution anatomical depiction of coronary arteries and their blockages, we can determine the diagnosis of coronary artery disease more accurately," said Piotr Slomka of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
"The idea is to combine two different images of the heart obtained by two different techniques: single photon emission computed tomography and cardiac computed tomography angiography," said Slomka, who is also an associate professor at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.
"These scans are obtained at different times -- and even at different locations -- but our computer software puts the information together in 3-D," said Slomka, thereby eliminating imaging limitations presented individually by either technology.
"This combination could be accomplished also by specialized hybrid scanners; however, our software approach is more flexible since the combination is required only in a subset of cases," he added.
The research was presented Sunday in Washington at the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine.