A new technology has been found to provide more accurate and faster heart scan results for both blood vessels in the heart and measuring blood supply to the heart muscle. Reports researchers in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, a journal of the American Heart Association

In a trial of 39 patients, the 2nd generation 128 Slice Dual Source "Flash" computerized tomography (CT) scans, captured quicker images of the whole heart, allowing doctors to better see artery blockages and reduced blood flow through the heart, using only a tenth of the radiation that current CT scans give.

"The new exam is faster and more convenient for the patient," said Gudrun M. Feuchtner, M.D., a professor in the Department of Radiology at the Innsbruck Medical University in Innsbruck, Austria, a co-author of the study.

The new "Flash" CT can capture images of the entire heart in less than 0.3 seconds which is within one heart beat, compared to 6 seconds and several hearts beats for traditional CT.

For accuracy the "Flash" CT was compared to cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and invasive angiogram, which involves placing a catheter through an artery to the heart.

The new "Flash" CT was able to identify restricted blood flow and correctly rule it out in 84-94 percent of the time compared to MRI which ad 78-95 percent. Also, the new "Flash" CT had 90 percent accuracy in detecting significant heart blockages in comparison to an angiography.

The scan proved particularly useful in patients with advanced heart disease or diabetic patients who reported no symptoms, but were found to have areas of poor coronary blood flow, Feuchtner said.

Researchers point out that people with diabetes may have nerve damage, but may not always experience the chest pains that typically accompany reduced blood flow to the heart.

The study findings can also help to plan heart surgery more accurately, according to André Plass, a co-author and cardiac surgeon from University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland.

The new technology answers two questions with one scan: whether the blood vessels of the heart are narrowed and whether there is reduced blood flow.

"This can have important implications for cost savings and efficiency as two studies are done in one setting," said Ricardo C. Cury, M.D., study co-author of the study and chairman of radiology at Baptist Health of South Florida.

The researchers point out that larger studies are needed before the new technology can be widely used.