Certification streamlines reading of cardiac CT scans

ADC cardiologist certified to read images of calcium scoring, improving patient diagnosis

Dr. Stuart Damore, ADC cardiologist, has been ordering calcium scoring screening tests for his patients for years, and now he does not have to rely on a radiologist to read the images.

Dr. Damore, who has been with ADC since 1984, was certified in May 2013 to read and interpret cardiac CT scans of calcium scoring.

The certification means Dr. Damore can more quickly learn his patients’ risk for future cardiac events and take steps to treat the condition.

“Usually they [patients] don’t show any symptoms. In someone who has risk factors for coronary disease, you use a calcium score to find out what their risk of having a cardiac event is within the next few years,” Dr. Damore said.

Nick Arledge, ADC Imaging Center director, says there are other benefits as well. He says Dr. Damore would be more familiar with a patient’s health history than a radiologist, so he can look at the scan more holistically with the rest of a patient’s symptoms.

A calcium scoring CT scan is used as a screening test for patients who have risk factors for coronary disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of coronary disease and high cholesterol.

Calcium scoring CT scans look for the presence of calcium in the arteries leading to the heart. Based on the location and extent of the calcium, doctors can determine a patient’s risk for plaque buildup in the coronary arteries.

“The particular scanner that we use is a 128-slice CT scanner, which has a higher resolution than most other scanners on the market, therefore, imaging the heart is clearer.” Dr. Damore said. “With a cardiac CT scan you can see inside the coronary arteries; as well as coronary bypasses and coronary stents. All of this without having to do an invasive procedure.”

Congenital diseases, valvular problems and heart function can also be assessed.

“Most people when they come to see me they know there potentially is something wrong,” Dr. Damore said. “They are looking for ways that they can find out what’s wrong. I explain to them that there are a variety of ways that we can figure out what’s going on. If it’s just a screening that we’re interested in, the calcium score would be a good first start. If they come in with chest pains of one variety or another, then maybe the calcium score isn’t the way to go. Maybe it’s a stress test.”