Coronary artery calcium: accuracy and reproducibility of measurements with multi-detector row CT--assessment of effects of different thresholds and quantification methods

Radiology. 2003 Jun;227(3):795-801. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2273020369. Epub 2003 May 1.


Purpose: To evaluate the effects of different thresholds and quantification methods on the accuracy and reproducibility of coronary calcium measurements with multi-detector row computed tomography (CT).

Materials and methods: A cardiac CT phantom containing predetermined calcified cylinders was scanned. Calcium volume and mass were measured at various threshold values ranging from 80 to 230 HU. In 32 patients, two consecutive CT scans were obtained, and the coronary artery calcium score, volume, and mass were measured by one observer at 130- and 90-HU thresholds. Correlation analysis and analysis of variance were performed to evaluate the measurement errors in the phantom study and the interscan variability in the clinical study.

Results: In the phantom, mass measurement error varied with threshold and calcium density (P <.01). Mass error was strongly correlated with volume error (r = 0.91, P <.01) but with a much smaller range. In the clinical study, interscan variability of mass measurements was significantly lower than that with other measurement methods for both patients and individual vessels. For the patients, the mean interscan variability of calcium score, volume, and mass at the 130-HU threshold was 20.4%, 13.9%, and 9.3%, respectively. For all methods, interscan variability was not significantly different between the 130- and 90-HU thresholds (P >.05).

Conclusion: The mass measurement is more accurate, less variable, and more reproducible in coronary calcium quantification than are measurements with other algorithms. Accurate quantification of calcium in each calcified plaque may require that the threshold be set individually, depending on the calcium density.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods