What are stairstep artifacts on coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA)?

Updated: Dec 21, 2017
  • Author: Eugene C Lin, MD; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Stairstep artifacts are associated with heart rate variability. [4] With irregular heart rates, phase misregistration can occur when data from different cardiac phases are used for reconstruction. A stairstep appearance results from the data reconstructed from different cardiac phases.

Stairstep artifact: Volume-rendered CT image demon Stairstep artifact: Volume-rendered CT image demonstrates "stairstep" artifact. This is a phase-misregistration artifact that is typically secondary to an irregular heartbeat.

Beta blockers are helpful in reducing heart rate variability and avoiding stairstep artifacts. Manual electrocardiographic (ECG) editing can also be helpful. With 256- and 320-slice computed tomography (CT) scanning, stairstep artifacts should not be seen if the heart is scanned in one heartbeat.

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