BackgroundThe purpose of this study was to determine the cut-off values of Hounsfield units (HU) for the discrimination of plaque components and to evaluate the feasibility of measurement of the volume of plaque components using multi-detector row computed tomography (MDCT).MethodsCoronary lesions (125 lesions in 125 patients) were visualized by both integrated backscatter intravascular ultrasound (IB-IVUS) and 64-slice MDCT at the same site. The IB values were used as a gold standard to determine the cut off values of HU for the discrimination of plaque components.ResultsPlaques were classified as lipid pool (n =50), fibrosis (n =65) or calcification (n =35) by IB-IVUS. The HU of lipid pool, fibrosis and calcification were 18 ± 18 HU (−19 to 58 HU), 95 ± 24 HU (46 to 154 HU) and 378 ± 99 HU (188 to 605 HU), respectively. Using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, a threshold of 50 HU was the optimal cutoff values to discriminate lipid pool from fibrosis. Lipid volume measured by MDCT was correlated with that measured by IB-IVUS (r =0.66, p <0.001), whereas fibrous volume was not (r =0.21, p =0.059).ConclusionLipid volume measured by MDCT was moderately correlated with that measured by IB-IVUS. MDCT may be useful for volumetric assessment of the lipid volume of coronary plaques, whereas the assessment of fibrosis volume was unstable.