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Acad Radiol. 2013 Nov;20(11):1422-8. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2013.08.008.

Distribution of abdominal aortic calcium by computed tomography: impact of analysis method on quantitative calcium score.

Author information

1
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, The Framingham Heart Study, 73 Mt Wayte Avenue, Suite No. 2, Framingham, MA 01702-5827.

Abstract

RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES:

Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) can be quantified using computed tomography (CT), but imaging planes are prescribed based on bony landmarks, so that individual variation between the landmark and the aortoiliac junction can result in variable aortic coverage. In the Framingham CT substudy, we scanned a 15-cm (Z-direction) abdominal segment cranial to the S1 vertebral body. We sought to determine the range and distribution of length of aorta scanned and the distribution of AAC within the abdominal aorta and to compare burden of AAC measured from fixed-length segments versus AAC from all slices cranial to the aortoiliac bifurcation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

AAC was quantified by modified Agatston score (AS) in 100 Framingham Heart Study participants (60 ± 13 years old, 51 men). We compared the AS measured from 5-cm and 8-cm segments with the ASALL (total visualized aorta).

RESULTS:

Of 100, 73 participants had AAC >0. The total length of aorta imaged was ≥8 cm in 84% of participants. Qualitatively, 5-cm and 8-cm segments correctly identified 96% and 99%, respectively, of participants as having or not having AAC. Quantitatively, AS8cm was within 20% of ASALL in four-fifths and within 30% of ASALL in nine-tenths of participants. AS5cm more severely underestimated ASALL.

CONCLUSION:

The use of S1 as the caudal imaging landmark in a 15-cm slab yields ≥8 cm aortic coverage in most adults. Both 5-cm and 8-cm analysis strategies are comparable to analyzing the total visualized abdominal aorta for prevalent AAC, but only 8-cm segment analysis yields quantitatively similar measures of AAC.

KEYWORDS:

Abdominal aorta; calcium; computed tomography; population study; segment length

PMID:
24119355
PMCID:
PMC3842029
DOI:
10.1016/j.acra.2013.08.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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