We sought to evaluate the accuracy and reproducibility of visual estimation of coronary artery calcium (CAC) from computed tomography attenuation correction (CTAC) scans performed for hybrid positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)/CT myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI).
At the time of MPI, hybrid systems obtain a low-dose, non-electrocardiogram (ECG)-gated CT scan that is used to perform attenuation correction. Utility of this CTAC scan in estimating actual CAC as measured by Agatston score (AS) on standard ECG-gated scans has not been previously studied.
A total of 492 patients, from 3 centers, receiving both MPI with CTAC and a standard CAC scan were studied. At each site, experienced readers blinded to AS reviewed CTAC images, visually estimating CAC on a 6-level scale: classifying patients as estimated AS of 0, 1 to 9, 10 to 99, 100 to 300, 400 to 999, or ≥1,000. Agreement between visually estimated coronary artery calcium (VECAC) on CTAC and AS, measured standardly and converted to the same scale, was evaluated, as was inter-reader agreement.
Although CTAC images are low dose and nongated, a high degree of association was observed between VECAC and AS, with 63% of VECACs in the same category as the AS category and 93% within 1 category. Weighted kappa was 0.89 (95% confidence interval: 0.88 to 0.91, p < 0.0001). High weighted kappa statistics were observed for each site, scanner type, and sex. Readers reported identical scores in 65% of cases and scores within 1 category in 93%.
CAC can be visually assessed from low-dose CTAC scans with high agreement with AS. CTAC scans should be routinely assessed for VECAC.