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Circulation. 1988 Nov;78(5 Pt 1):1167-80.

Intrathoracic spatial location of specified coronary segments on the normal human heart. Applications in quantitative arteriography, assessment of regional risk and contraction, and anatomic display.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.


The clinically important coronary segmental anatomy has been described in a format useful for quantitative analysis and standardized display. We have determined the intrathoracic location and course of each of the 23 coronary artery segments and branches commonly used for clinical description of disease. Measurements were averaged from perpendicular angiographic view-pairs in 37 patients with normal-sized hearts. Each segment or branch is described by several points along its course; each point is specified in polar coordinates as the radial distance from the principal coronary ostium and by angles about the patient, corresponding to those describing rotation in c-arm radiographic systems. This computer-assisted measurement method is accurate to within +/- 0.2 cm (SD) and +/- 2 degrees in phantom studies. Coronary segment location among a group of normal-sized hearts can be specified to within +/- 1.0 cm (SD). For example, the left anterior descending coronary artery segment at the apex of the heart is 12.2 +/- 1.0 cm from the left coronary ostium, 32 +/- 4 degrees to the left of the anterioposterior axis, and at 46 +/- 7 degrees of caudal angulation. There are several clinically important applications of this new knowledge. First, this anatomic format provides the basis for estimating regional myocardial contraction and the relative size of the myocardial region at risk from a given arterial occlusion. Second, precise knowledge of "normal" segment location greatly simplifies the computation of dimensional correction factors for quantitative arteriography. Third, viewing angles most appropriate for videodensitometric assessment of lesion lumen area may be computed from these data. The theoretical basis and numerical values needed for most of the above estimates are provided. Finally, a computer program has been written to generate a three-dimensional tree-branch vascular model from these anatomic locations. This easily used interactive program aids in teaching coronary angiographic anatomy and, of importance, permits selection of viewing angles that "best" visualize the traditionally difficult parts of the coronary tree.

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