The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute

The Christ Hospital Health Network Using Noninvasive Artificial Intelligence Aided Diagnostics for Visualization and Analysis of Coronary Blockages

The Heart & Vascular Institute is first in the region with HeartFlow noninvasive coronary diagnostics to significantly improve chest pain treatment plans

Cincinnati (JUNE 21, 2022) – This month, The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute performed Greater Cincinnati’s first diagnostic coronary CT angiogram (CCTA) using HeartFlow—a sophisticated and predictive analytics technology that noninvasively predicts the reduction of blood flow to the heart caused by blockages in coronary arteries. The data are displayed as a holographical image of the patient’s heart arteries. This was not only the first time in the region that a Heart Flow analysis was performed but The Christ Hospital is only the second institution in Ohio to utilize this technology.

“Heart and vascular disease remains the overall leading causes of death and disability in the United States,” said Robert A. Pelberg, MD, FACC, FAHA, FASE, FASNC, FSCCT, Medical Director, Ambulatory Clinical Services and Advanced Cardiac Imaging Specialist. “We could not be more excited to bring this technology to the Tristate and to all of our patients, who deserve this excellent standard of care.”

This analysis, called computed tomography fractional flow reserve, or CT-FFr, involves importing a CCTA into a supercomputer, where complex physics and mathematical analyses are done using artificial intelligence. The results then model the CT scan into what HeartFlow describes as a digital, personalized 3-D model of the heart that depicts the blood flow through a patient’s coronary arteries.

“Traditional coronary CT angiograms depict only the anatomy and not the physiology of the heart arteries,” said Dr. Pelberg. “Whereas Heart Flow measures the blood flow through these arteries as well.”

This is especially essential in patients with chest pain when the extent and significance of the physical blockage is not readily apparent. For these patients, HeartFlow combines the traditional benefits and strengths of a CCTA with its advanced physics and analytics for a more accurate prediction of the causative relationship of a blockage to the patient’s symptoms. The historical strength of CCTA is in identifying blockages important to the patient’s well-being, but its relative weakness is overestimating the significance of an identified blockage.

“The strength of HeartFlow is that it accurately predicts the physiological importance of a moderate blockage, thereby elevating CCTA by making the data just as good at ruling in an important blockage as it is at ruling it out,” added Dr. Pelberg. “Without CT-FFr, if I see a blockage in a CT scan, at times, I cannot be confident that it is not significant without performing additional noninvasive or invasive testing to assess the blood flow through the blockage.”

The value to patients is that in many cases this additional testing may prove to have been unnecessary and, in some instances, these additional tests carry risk for complications. Now, with HeartFlow, CCTA not only noninvasively predicts with great accuracy the absence of a blockage, but just as accurately can diagnose the presence of a significant blockage as well. With more than 425 publications in prominent peer-reviewed medical journals—including JAMA, JACC, Circulation, The American Journal of Cardiology, and Heart—the technology has been proven across diverse patient populations, including a series of large, multi-center global trials.

Patients benefit by not having to undergo unnecessary and potentially more invasive testing, and their CCTA results are generally available in one business day. Starting in July, this will be a mainstream tool at The Christ Hospital for inpatient and outpatient diagnostics, as indicated for chest pain.

Dean J. Kereiakes, MD, FACC, FSCAI, President of The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute, is delighted with this advancement in technology. “HeartFlow represents a tremendous evolution in coronary diagnostic capabilities and is a testament to the exceptional physician talent we have in our advanced cardiac imaging program. Our team of nationally renowned cardiologists provides superior care to our patients.”

While HeartFlow is unique at the hospital, an accurate analytical interpretation of the results is dependent on specialized cardiologists uniquely qualified to read the highly technical results. Only these specific, highly trained cardiologists review HeartFlow diagnostics to assist other Christ Hospital cardiologists and physicians in the care of their patients. These board-certified cardiologists are also boarded at the highest-level III certifications in multiple advanced cardiology imaging modalities, such as MRI, nuclear, ECHO, PET, and Coronary CT Angiography. This team of advanced cardiac imaging specialists—Drs. Pelberg, Mazur, Clarke, Yasar, Berlacher, Jollis, and Ratajczak—certainly distinguish the Heart & Vascular Institute from other cardiology facilities in the region.

Now, with the successful integration of HeartFlow completed, additional technology from Elucid, a Boston-based medical technology group, is being incorporated to further analyze a patient’s heart risk by using artificial intelligence to determine the level of vulnerability of specific plaques, risk stratify plaques, and determine their likelihood for causing a heart attack.

About HeartFlow

HeartFlow is the leader in revolutionizing precision heart care, uniquely combining human ingenuity with advanced technology. HeartFlow’s noninvasive HeartFlow FFRCT Analysis leverages artificial intelligence to create a personalized three-dimensional model of the blood flow to the heart. Clinicians can use this model to evaluate the impact a blockage has on the patient’s heart muscle and determine the best treatment for patients. HeartFlow’s technology is reflective of our Silicon Valley roots and incorporates over two decades of scientific evidence with the latest advances in artificial intelligence. For more information, visit

About The Christ Hospital Health Network

The Christ Hospital Health Network is an acute care hospital located in Mt. Auburn with a remote hospital location in Liberty Township, five ambulatory outpatient centers, and dozens of offices conveniently located throughout the region. More than 1,300 talented physicians and more than 6,000 dedicated team members support the Network. Its mission is to improve the health of the community and to create patient value by providing exceptional outcomes and the finest experiences, all in an affordable way. The Network has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the #1 hospital in the Cincinnati Region and awarded Healthgrades “America’s 50 Best Hospitals” for being in the top 1% in the nation for providing the highest clinical quality year over year. It is also a Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award recipient, which recognizes top-performing healthcare organizations that achieve the 95th percentile or above of performance in patient experience. The Christ Hospital is among a select number of hospitals in the nation to be awarded Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence. For more than 130 years, The Christ Hospital has provided compassionate care to those it serves.